With their league schedules out of the way, San Mateo and Burlingame renew their rivalry in the 84th annual Little Big Game on Saturday.
“It’s fun; it’s exciting and the kids are really positive,” San Mateo coach Jeff Scheller said. “It’s not about the students per se. It comes down to the tradition. We just tell them how fortunate they are to be part of this.”
The Panthers (4-5, 2-3 Peninsula Athletic League Bay) have won seven of the team’s past eight matchups, including last year’s 35-20 victory. Overall, Burlingame leads the series 47-32-4.
Burlingame dug itself out of an 0-3 hole in the Bay with two straight victories, including last week’s 38-14 win over King’s Academy, clinching the league’s final berth into the Central Coast Section playoffs.
It is Burlingame’s third consecutive CCS appearance and the first time this season the Panthers have won consecutive games.
“They’re always very productive,” Scheller said. “They love to run the ball. If they’re gaining 5-6 yards per carry, it could be a long day.”
San Mateo (1-7-1, 1-4 PAL Lake) won its first game of the season last week with a 44-13 win against Mills.
“Defensively, they started playing with confidence,” Scheller said. “If we can play a pretty good defensive game, we have a pretty good shot at winning.”
The Bearcats’ win against Mills was the only time this season they allowed fewer than 20 points.
However, the offense has scored more than any other team in the Lake and at least 25 points five times this season, highlighted by the play of the Bearcats’ seniors.
Quarterback Trevor Brill put in extra work over the summer, according to Scheller, and has accumulated more than 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Twelve of those touchdowns went to wide receiver Andrew Ho.
Running back Michael Latu rushed for a season-high 234 yards and three touchdowns in the win against Mills.
“If you had to win one, winning one before the Little Big Game is always good,” Scheller said.
San Mateo’s win against Mills also prevented the Bearcats from finishing winless in league for the second consecutive season.
“I’m really happy for them just to get the feeling what it’s like to win,” Scheller said of his seniors who had not won a game in nearly two years.
Scheller is hoping to see his team’s consistency improve in its final game but is also confident in the Bearcats’ future.
The San Mateo junior varsity team is tied with Hillsdale for second in the Lake.
Burlingame’s first-round CCS game will be either on Nov. 18 or Nov. 19. The matchups will be determined Saturday.
The Little Big Game is part of San Mateo’s spirit week, including a rally, food drive and the return of a number of football alumni.
Little Big Game
Burlingame vs. San Mateo
WHEN: Saturday, 11 a.m.
WHERE: Burlingame High School
All-TIME: Burlingame leads series 47-32-4
LAST YEAR: Burlingame defeated San Mateo 35-20
LAST WEEK: Burlingame defeated King’s Academy 38-14; San Mateo defeated Mills 44-13