While the Super Bowl is in February and the college bowl season stretches throughout December, the biggest bowl game in Bandon kicks off on Friday night.
At 7 p.m. it will be the annual playing of the Cranberry Bowl as Bandon (0-1) hosts Brookings-Harbor (1-0). While the opponent for this particular bowl game changes, what doesn’t change is the excitement for the game as the city of Bandon welcomes in its 73rd annual Cranberry Festival.
“It brings more people (to the game) because it’s a big weekend for Bandon,” said Bandon head coach Aaron Freitag. “A lot of people that have graduated from here and that kind of thing always come back for this weekend. Just about all the class reunions happen Cranberry weekend.”
After a loss last week at home against Glide, the Tigers are looking to work on the little things in hopes of getting a win in front of the full crowd.
“We’ve just got to clean some stuff up. We’ll make a few changes here and there but the biggest thing is you just try to tighten up week to week and keep doing things better,” said Freitag. “So I mean, overall, we did pretty good, I thought. There were just a ton of turnovers. It’s all the small stuff, penalties, that we’ve got to clean up and get better at it. I think we’ll be all right.”
Freitag is also hoping that the team’s starting quarterback, his son Braydon Freitag, will be back in the lineup after an injury kept him out of week one. But if not, the team has a capable backup in junior running back Wyatt Dyer who got the nod last week.
Dyer had touchdown runs of 45 and 3 yards and also connected with Coby Smith on a 29-yard touchdown pass in the Tigers' 33-18 loss
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“I mean, he’s great. I have no problems playing him at quarterback. If I had to do it all year, fine. You just don’t want your quarterback to run the ball 20 times. It kind of hurts me there because now I can’t feed him and he’s a punisher,” said Freitag.
And while there will be a reunions across the stands as former Tigers converge in Bandon, it will also be a reunion between two familiar teams. The teams haven’t met in-season in a while but over the summer competed against each other in seven-on-seven.
Freitag met second-year Brookings-Harbor head coach Shaun Bavaro at a coaching clinic and the pair quickly connected and then brought their teams together to compete.
“We kind of developed a friendship over it and he’s a great guy and I really like him. They are a well-coached team. I’ve spent some time with their whole staff after seven on sevens and it’s a good staff that he’s got. Brookings is going in the right direction,” said Freitag.
After a .500 finish a season ago, the Bruins started the season out last weekend with a 54-6 win over an under-manned Gold Beach side.
“We had a little more firepower than they had so we could make mistakes and cover them up pretty easily,” said Bavaro. “But Coach Freitag has done a great job of building Bandon back up. It’s going to be a tough test for us. We’ve got to be ready to play all four quarters.”
Before the football teams kick off, the Bandon volleyball team will take on Pacific and Union at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. respectively in the gym. The football game begins at 7 p.m. and includes the crowning of the Cranberry Kitchen winner at halftime.