Valley’s 6-game winning streak on line in ‘Battle of the Bypass’

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | 6:39 PM


There’s never a lack of excitement when Burrell and Valley get together for the “Battle of the Bypass.”

“Man, we are looking at it like it’s Burrell week,” Valley’s Vaun Ross said excitedly. “What week is it? It’s Burrell week! We’re excited, man. All of us, we’re hyped, and we just have the attitude of, ‘Let’s get it.’ Let’s leave all of the talk on the field.”

The two schools, located 3.5 miles apart, have been squaring off for nearly 40 years. This year, the game is 7 p.m. Friday at Valley. While they have traded streaks throughout, the Vikings have come out on top the past six years and hold a 25-14 lead in the rivalry.

In four of the past five years, the game has been decided by a touchdown or less. Last season, the Vikings earned a five-point victory as they forced the Bucs to turn the ball over on downs just after they crossed midfield.

“That goes to show you that we’ve been very fortunate,” Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo said. “We won one game on a field goal, and since I’ve been here it’s been close every year.”

After being split into different classifications before last season, the teams decided to schedule the Week Zero game to keep the rivalry alive. While the game no longer has playoff implications, the anticipation hasn’t changed.

“This game is the only game that means anything to us right now,” Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said. “We are 100% dialed in on Valley. This game means the world to us. It’s our first game, and it’s the only game we are focusing on. We go one at a time. It just happens to be that it’s Valley, so it takes on an extra dynamic, if you will.”

Heading into this season’s game, both teams have different identities than in years past. Senior Logan Phillips started at quarterback for the Bucs, with no previous experience, last season and passed for 128 yards in his first varsity start. This year, Central Catholic transfer Alex Arledge takes over under center, allowing Liotta to open up his fast-paced offense.

On the opposite side, Colosimo always has used a run-heavy offense, which proved fruitful last year when 225-pound running back Deonte Ross ran for 158 yards and three touchdowns on 21 attempts. With a lack of linemen this year and a number of skilled players, including first-year quarterback Cayden Quinn and receivers Justin Hooper and Ross, Valley’s offense will have a different look.

No matter the appearance, both teams have the same motivations. On one side is a team that hasn’t won the game in six years and is hoping to use the victory as a springboard for the rest of the season.

“It would be very important for us as a team,” Phillips said about what it would mean to get a victory. “To start undefeated, that would be very big for us.”

On the other side is a team looking to pass down a triumphant tradition.

“That’s our motivation,” Ross said. “We’ve been winning for six years, and that’s what we have to use as our motivation and passing that on to the younger players.”

Motivations, and outcomes, aside, the “Battle of the Bypass” has provided an exciting, unique atmosphere in recent years.

“It’s pretty insane for us,” Phillips said. “It gives you chills when you get out there.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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