Panthers attempt to take back Ol’ River Jug from Rapids
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT – It’s that time of year again. The Ol’ River Jug is up for grabs between the SPASH and Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln football teams on Sept. 8 in a storied Valley Football Association rivalry game.
While the Raiders took bragging rights last year with a 34-21 victory at home, SPASH looks to retaliate in 2023 as they prepare like normal.
“We prepare like every other week. We’d be doing a disservice to our players and our opponents if we think one game is any more important than another,” SPASH Head Coach Ryan Eigenberger said. “This is a tough conference and every game is a battle. We treat every game like it’s a meaningful rivalry game. We want to maintain our edge.”
The Jug has put on the miles over the last few years as both sides have split the last four matchups two games apiece.
With recent history (since 2018) saying the home team will win, the defense needs to be focused in any game to win, no matter where the game is.
The Panthers have made those big plays on that side of the ball early this season.
“Defense is always important when trying to win football. We want to be physical and fly around. Our players have bought into that,” Eigenberger stated.
Senior running back Braylon Smola has already rushed for 431 yards and four touchdowns in three games this season.
The run game is something that SPASH wants to pound out early in games.
Smola and countless other seniors have leadership skills on and off the field that help the team.
“All of our seniors are special. They bring a mix of skill and leadership to the table that you need in order to be successful,” Eigenberger explained. “When your best players are your hardest workers, good things will happen. We have that.”
SPASH sits at 2-1 (1-0) and Rapids is 0-3 (0-1) and will battle at Goerke Field in Stevens Point tomorrow, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m.