SEVERANCE BOWL: For whom the bell tolls

The Severance Bell, which takes about six men to lift and move,

The buzz surrounding the crosstown clash, comments murmured here
and there over the past year and a half, like helium in a balloon,
inflated to its maximum with momentum and ready to pop.
Filled to the brim, a pot of water left to simmer on the stove. Little bubbles forming all of a sudden boiling over to create a sizzling roar.

The buzz surrounding the crosstown clash, comments murmured here and there over the past year and a half, like helium in a balloon, inflated to its maximum with momentum and ready to pop.

Undeniable emotion will sweep through Garcia-Elder Sports Complex tonight as the Gilroy High Mustangs and Christopher Cougars encounter one another for the first time on the gridiron at the varsity level in the inaugural Severance Bowl.

“It does kind of bring it to a culmination that we are two programs,” GHS athletic director Jack Daley said. “From a community standpoint, it’s going to be a great event.”

The action on the field will grab the attention of all in attendance. Fans will be fixated on the performance and planted to the edge of their seats awaiting an outcome.

Ironically, severance has a number of definitions all referring to the act of severing or being severed – a breaking off or a removal of a part from a whole.

Yet amid the separation is a symbol of unity: The Severance Bell, the prized trophy bestowed upon the victor.

“You acknowledge the separation but you also try to embrace a brotherhood,” CHS athletic director Darren Yafai said.

Rivals on the field, friends once the game clock expires – an intriguing dynamic.

It’s Gilroy’s own version of Oregon vs. Oregon State in the Civil War or CAL-Berkeley vs. Stanford in the Big Game, both spirited and drenched with tradition.

The two teams gathered for a big dinner Wednesday night, reuniting players who have blocked for and with each other in the past. Former teammates two seasons ago, perhaps childhood neighbors or longtime family friends now separated on opposite sidelines.

“Everybody still knows each other,” Yafai said.

Bragging rights are definitely on the line.

“We have talked all along that we are still, for the most part, friends and know each other,” Daley said. “On the field we want a spirited rivalry and see kids do a great job. But off the field they are all still buddies. They were all teammates at some point.”

The connections are deeper among the coaching staffs. At one time, Yafai manned the Mustangs with current CHS head coach Tim Pierleoni, GHS head coach Greg Garcia and assistant coaches Steven Lo and Craig Martin, CHS principal John Perales and others all on his staff.

“We are all buddies still,” Yafai said. “We all kind of grew up together and that’s kind of neat.”

Blue and white vs. teal and black.

Downplayed until now, tonight’s game will hit the apex of the “Wow” index from the opening kick onward.

With both teams eliminated from playoff contention, this is the section championship, the state championship. This is the Severance Bowl.

“Having these two schools playing each other is a big deal,” Daley said. “Kids on both sides are going to be ready for it.”

If last season’s rowdy crowd that filed into Garcia-Elder Sports Complex when the freshman teams met – a CHS victory – is any indication, tonight’s crowd will be boisterous.

“I think it’s going to be one of the biggest crowds that stadium has seen in years,” Yafai said.

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. GHS will honor its seniors as well.

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