TWIN FALLS — After every win, the Twin Falls High School football team engraves a notch into a wooden baseball bat.
Head football coach Allyn Reynolds received the bat from a former Bruin, Jim Horner, who donated it after his time in minor league baseball.
“It’s kinda like the old gunslinger who used to notch his gun. We notch a bat,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully that’s not too violent for anybody.”
Twin Falls senior lineman Austin Hatch carved the second notch of the season into the bat on Friday night, and this one felt much more gratifying than the first.
Twin Falls held off rival Canyon Ridge 29-14 Friday night in the ninth annual Service Bowl. The Bruins (2-2) had to grind the final three quarters, but a stout defense and a few big plays helped them improve to 8-1 all-time against the Riverhawks (1-3).
“It was a scary game, but we pulled through. We finished,” Bruins senior running back/linebacker Taryn Casperson said. “Overjoyed.”
Casperson began his last Service Bowl with perhaps the biggest play of the game.
With a minute and a half gone by in the first quarter, Casperson intercepted Johnny Eastman and ran about 35 yards for a pick-6. He also ran in the two-point conversion to put Twin Falls up 8-0.
“I was ready to get the game started,” Casperson said. “It was a bit unexpected, but weird things happen in rivalry games.”
Casperson made it 15-0 with a two-yard run about seven minutes later. The Riverhawks drove to Twin Falls’ 4-yard line right before the first quarter ended, but they couldn’t punch it in.
Twin Falls made it 22-0 with 9:03 left in the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Carson Walters found senior wide receiver Drew Meyerhoeffer for a 45-yard touchdown pass. It was Meyerhoeffer’s first career touchdown.
Drew and his cousin Preston Meyerhoeffer both lined up out wide on Friday. It was the first and last Service Bowl for the seniors, who focused on basketball and golf before this season.
“I figured I won’t be doing this any longer. Might as well get the sports in when I can,” Preston said. “Sharing four months with my best friends, why not?”
Preston was Twin Falls’ punt returner and made a handful of catches against Canyon Ridge. He and Drew left the field Friday night knowing they contributed to another Service Bowl win for the Bruins.
“It was crazy,” Drew said. “Emotions were high. On the first kickoff, everybody was all juiced. But after we got on the field, everybody kinda settled down. It was fun.”
The Meyerhoeffers made their marks, Hatch made his notch and Walters looked ready for the biggest game of his life. But the star of the game was easily Casperson.
After building a 22-0 lead, Twin Falls’ offense fell silent for two quarters. The Riverhawks weren’t exactly humming on offense, but they found the end zone twice by the middle of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 22-14.
The Bruins lined up for a 27-yard field goal with 9:16 left, and Canyon Ridge blocked it. It looked like an omen, the play that everyone would view as the turning point in a comeback win for the Riverhawks.
Instead, they punted, but they recovered a fumble with 6:39 left on their own 32. Maybe this would be the turning point.
It wasn’t. Canyon Ridge punted again, and the Bruins looked to run out the clock, or score one more touchdown to put the game away.
Casperson delivered the dagger.
With 3:00 left, he ran outside left, avoided some tackles and sprinted past the secondary for a 48-yard touchdown run.
Casperson cradled the Service Bowl trophy in the locker room after the game as Hatch ingrained the notch into Horner’s bat. Beating Canyon Ridge is a feeling he’ll miss. But he’ll always have this game to cherish.
“We’d have nothing different,” he said.