The Snowflake Lobos will be lined up opposite the Winslow Bulldogs at 7 p.m. on Friday at Emil Nasser Stadium when the 3A powerhouse football teams renew their long and storied rivalry.
There are few teams on the Winslow schedule that provide a sterner test or a fiercer rivalry than do the Lobos. It really doesn’t matter whether the teams facing one another are wearing football, basketball, baseball or softball uniforms. If it is a Winslow-Snowflake game, you can bet it will be fiercely contested by what are usually two pretty evenly matched teams.
Both Winslow and Snowflake were eliminated in the semi-finals of the 3A Conference Football Championship Playoffs last season. The two finished with sparkling records. Winslow was 10-2. Snowflake finished 10-3.
The last time the two teams met, Snowflake was coming off a season-opener against a highly regarded Coolidge Bear team. Winslow was playing its season-opener. The “tune-up” game proved helpful to the Lobos who prevailed 22-14 at Snowflake.
The Bulldogs did not taste defeat again in the regular season, rolling over their 3A North Region competition with relative ease and barreling into the play-offs with a rout of the Parker Broncs in the first round. Winslow reached the semi-finals with a 7-6 victory over the Blue Ridge Yellowjackets.
The Yellowjackets football program is the envy of the state and not used to losing to anyone. The Bulldogs pulled off what few believed possible: three straight wins over a Blue Ridge team.
Winslow fans went to the playoffs in Mesa rooting for Snowflake to oust Seton Catholic and their beloved Bulldogs to take care of Show Low. Both gave good efforts but fell just short. The Bulldogs would have to “wait ‘til next year” for their revenge of their season-opening loss.
Now it is next year and both teams should be prepared for the test. On paper at least, Snowflake looks to be the most formidable regular season foe for the Bulldogs. The Lobos play in a more highly regarded region, the mighty 3A East. It has been a rare year indeed in the last three decades when a state 3A champion came from one of the other conferences.
This year, Winslow will not be playing their first game when they face the Lobos. Winslow defeated the Camp Verde Cowboys 47-6 in their season opened. The Lobos, just as they did last season, started their campaign with a narrow loss to a tough and talented Coolidge Bear eleven. The top ranked Bears edged the Lobos 37-27.
In the contest at Coolidge, the Lobos were powered by running back Paul Johnson who rushed for over 190 yards. Surprisingly, the usually aerial minded Lobos did not complete a pass and had zero yards through the air.