Keith Minor could have lied. The Balboa football coach could have said this is a new year, the Buccaneers are a new team and this is just another game.
But when Balboa runs onto the Kezar Stadium field tonight at 7:30 to take on Lincoln, many of the Bucs’ veterans will surely be thinking of the last time they played on the field, a 21-20 loss to the Mustangs in last year’s Turkey Bowl.
"When you lose by one point in a championship game, it’s something you never forget," Minor said. "As a coach or a player, you remember it for the rest of your life. It’s always going to gnaw at you."
Minor said memories of the second quarter were particularly painful, when Balboa suffered two turnovers and allowed Lincoln to take a 21-0 halftime lead after a scoreless first quarter. The Bucs stormed back in the second half, but former quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s potential game-tying extra point was blocked with 4:05 remaining.
"It’s hard when you make so many mistakes," Minor said. "Even to this day, you don’t know if they were the better team. They played better in one quarter."
Fullback Gem Kurakata was part of the 2005 Balboa team and said his team is ready to go.
"I guess we kind of want revenge from last year," Kurakata said. "We want to win. We still think about last year, but [what can you do]?"