There is talk that the Egg Bowl may soon be back. For the last two years, there has been no varsity football game between the Casa Grande and Petaluma high school football teams.
The game was cancelled following some nastiness on both sides in the 2011 game, Casa Grande's last season in the Sonoma County league before it switched to the North Bay League, taking away any mandatory meeting between the two rivals. I was at that 2011 game won by Casa Grande, 35-9. I didn't see anything outrageous, but, for one of the few times in four decades, I watched the game from the press box rather than the sidelines. I was recovering from surgery and confined to viewing the game from afar, so I couldn't really see what was being said or done on the field. At any rate, the result of that game, coupled with Casa moving to the NBL led to what was planned all along to be a temporary suspension of play between the two rivals.
The truth is that, year in and year out, Petaluma is going to have a tough time competing with Casa Grande. The latest enrollment numbers I have put Casa Grande at something over 1,700 students and Petaluma at just over 1,300. The discrepancy is even greater because of open enrollment, which allows students, including student/athletes, to pretty much pick their school with only minor penalties for transfers.
Today's junior high school athletes are too young to remember the regular season unbeaten and 12-1 Petaluma High team of 2009, but they certainly remember the string of Casa Grande Sonoma County League championships and the glamour of this year's currently unbeaten team. The result is that not only does Casa Grande have more students, it has more athletes.
That doesn't mean that the Egg Bowl shouldn't be played, it just means that, on most years, it will be an upset when Petaluma wins. If that last sentence upsets some people on either side of town, I'm sorry. Sometimes the truth hurts.
That being said, for the next couple of years, an Egg Bowl could well be a competitive game. Casa Grande has several exceptional junior athletes on this year's varsity, but the Gauchos also lose many key play-making seniors, including multi-talented JaJuan Lawson, who seems to have been making plays for Casa forever. He graduates next spring, and will be impossible to replace. Meanwhile, Petaluma has an outstanding sophomore class waiting to step up to the varsity next fall. A sprinkling of those sophomores are on the varsity this season, and even more form the nucleus of an outstanding junior varsity team after going undefeated as freshmen. They will be good next year and even better in 2015.
But, just as the sun begins to shine for Petaluma, Casa Grande has a hugely talented freshman team ready to carry on the Gaucho tradition. Give the Petaluma freshmen a lot of credit for playing a competitive game against a bigger, faster and more experienced Casa frosh team last week. Who knows what will happen when the current ninth graders are seniors, but Casa does have a multitude of talent on the way.
Should the Egg Bowl be reinstated?
But we have to keep things in perspective. Casa Grande is the bigger school and always will be. Petaluma will win often enough to keep things interesting and Petaluma will always play well enough to keep the game competitive.