Oregonian players know importance of Civil War
CORVALLIS — Last season, Ryan Nall played in his first Civil War football game.
Nall had played all season as a true freshman for Oregon State, but had his biggest performance against Oregon, rushing for 174 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown.
It was a big moment for Nall as a player, entrenching him as a starting running back going into this season.
But it was also meaningful because Nall is from Sandy and went to Central Catholic.
"That was kind of like a dream come true, almost," Nall said. "Not a lot of people get to play in their home state rivalry between two of the biggest college rivalries in the country. That's something that a lot of people don't have the opportunity to do and I was just so happy to be a part of it and be able to play and impact my team.
"Unfortunately, we didn't come out on top, but there's going to be more of the games and, obviously, coming up this weekend and I'm ready to get after it."
As an Oregon native, Nall knows the importance of the game to so many people living in the state.
The first game was played in 1894 and there have been 119 meetings between the schools.
There have been several big games in the rivalry, including the 2000 game in which Oregon needed to win to go to the Rose Bowl but OSU wound up winning and eventually defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2008, OSU needed a win to get to the Rose Bowl and fell short and 2009, when the winner (Oregon) was guaranteed a Rose Bowl berth.
"It means a lot. It's a big rivalry, I've grown up with it my whole life, seen just about every Civil War," Nall said. "There's obviously a few that are really memorable and I love the rivalry and I can't wait to play in it."
OSU freshman receiver Trevon Bradford grew up in Oregon City and rooted for Oregon as a youngster.
Now he's going to line up against the Ducks on Saturday.
"Growing up I always wanted to have an opportunity to play in the game," Bradford said. "I was always a Duck fan growing up, so being able to go out and play against them ... It's going to be a great experience for me."
When senior receiver Victor Bolden was a freshman, he was one of Bradford's favorite players along with UO's DeAnthony Thomas.
Bradford recalled the end of the 2013 game in which Bolden scored with 1 minute, 28 seconds to go to give OSU a 35-30 lead.
"I remember he had got a fly sweep with like two minutes left in the game and scored really quick and the Ducks ended up coming back and winning that game," Bradford said. "So I still give him a little bit of crap about that, telling him you scored too quick, that's why they lost. Just fun stuff like that."
When Blake Brandel's family got together for the Civil War, there was no doubt which team they were supporting.
Brandel's mother went to OSU and his uncle played baseball for the Beavers.
"So I grew up an Oregon State fan," Brandel said. "We don't like the Ducks at my house. No one was cheering for U of O."
So it came as no surprise that Brandel chose to play for the Beavers after finishing his high school career at Central Catholic.
Brandel grew up watching the game from his home in Milwaukie.
"It was a big thing, like Saturdays were usually lazy days at my house and when the Civil War came around we had a bunch of people over and stuff, so it was cool," he said.
He will get his first shot at the Ducks as a true freshman starter at right tackle.
"That's a goal when you grow up in Oregon, playing in that game is a big deal," he said. "It's always fun to see guys coming out of the state of Oregon and representing these two teams and so it's just an exciting deal and I'm just lucky to be here."
Senior safety Devin Chappell grew up in a more pro-Oregon area in Springfield.
He said the game is just as big in that area of the state as it is anywhere.
"Yeah, the Civil War is huge, especially for the community down in Eugene," Chappell said. "Everybody parties hard and gets together for the Civil War, so I watched my fair share of Civil War games growing up."
Chappell said he thinks the game means more to the fans than the players, but it is big for him as a senior.
"This being my last college game and being a senior, it means a lot to me," he said. "I want to go out with a win, I want to go out strong and I want this to be a good memory to have in the future."
The players who have grown up in Oregon are all aware of the local significance of the game. It doesn't take the others long to catch on.
"Obviously, when they come in they don't really know too much about it," Nall said. "My roommate, Yanni Demogerontas, is from Chicago. He didn't have any affiliation of this rivalry and he's starting to pick up on it now and starting to see how important it is to some of these Oregonians, these local people and to me, obviously, because I'm from here.
"When you're here, you'll pick up on it and you'll start to get sucked into the rivalry and it's just fun, honestly. People, the way they act come Civil War time. Come game time and everything, it's just a fun deal."