1964. Well, it just had to happen. Six games played, Borah winning them all, 4 of them very close. There were a lot of similarities to the year before. This time Borah had the 9-0 record, while Boise had 8 wins and a tie. Borah started the season beating teams from 4 states: Missoula, Montana; Las Vegas, Nevada; Medford, Oregaon; and Richland, Washington. Once again the SIC title was on the line. It was back and forth game like many of the others. The most exciting play of the game was when Randy Hulbert returned a kick off for a touchdown for the Braves. Boise score late and quarterback Steve Preece tried to rally the Lions in the last two minutes, but the Braves held on. Preece and Boise end Kent Scott (#88 on the cover), who kicked a field goal and three extra points, both played for Oregon State, when the Beavers were known as the giant killers by beating two top 5 teams (USC and Purdue) and tying another (UCLA) in 1967. This game broke my heart, but the Braves were the better team that day. This was the last year with only 2 public high schools in Boise, and the 2 schools dominated. Boise was AP#1 at the end of the season, and Borah was #2. Borah won the state championship in basketball with a 24-1 record,and Boise won the state track championship with Borah finishing 2nd.
The “high flying” Capital Eagles entered the scene in 1965, and everything changed. The most exciting game of the 1965 season turned out to be the Borah-Capital game late in the season. Capital jumped ahead 13-0 early, but Borah’s Frank Ryther scored just before the half to make it 13-7. Joe Glaisyer scored two 2nd half touchdowns and Bruce Mors kicked three extra points to give the Lions a 21-20 victory (there were no two-point extra points in those days). On November 11 at Bronco Stadium Borah was looking for revenge against the Braves and quarterback Perry Gosset (#14 on the cover) who had been at the helm the previous season when Boise won, and the Lions got it. Led by quarterback Lon Troxel (#11 on the cover), the son of the Head Lion, Coach Troxel, the Lions won the game and the SIC title with a 9-1 record.
Dick Eardley, KBOI news director and Statesman writer, spoke at the Ed Troxel Appreciation Night celebration when Trox had resigned his teaching job at Borah to become an assistant coach at the University of Idaho. Eardley said he would interview the coach every year and ask him what the team looked like for the upcoming season. Coach Troxel would shake his head and say he just wasn’t sure if the team was going to measure up. Except in 1966. Eardley said when he asked him before that season – which turned out to be Troxel’s last – that Troxel just grinned. This was an offensive machine that averaged nearly 50 points a game, mostly on the ground. They had over 90 players, and four separate offensive units. In 4 of the 10 games, four of those units scored at least one touchdown. In the first road game of the year, they beat a team in Missoula, Montana, 60-6 that went undefeated the rest of the year and won the Montana state championship. Once again the closest game of the year was against Capital, with the Eagles taking a 16-14 lead at half before the Lions scored 17 unanswered points in the 2nd half. The Lions for the 2nd time in Troxel’s tenure went undefeated after beating Boise on Veterans Day, Borah’s last Veterans Day game at Bronco Stadium until 1969.
Back in 2001, a classmate and I were writing back and forth on email, talking about Coach Troxel who had recently died. My friend wrote, "When I was growing up, I thought Troxel was God." If you went to West or South Junior High in the 60's, he sure seemed almost bigger than life. I remember in the sixth grade he brought some track and field athletes to Jackson Elementary to sell us on track. He was a great track coach, too. At a surprise assembly in early 1967, the Borah student body listened to former players, opponents in coaching, and many others talk about Coach Troxel as we (I was a sophomore at the time) said good-bye to the only head football coach Borah had known. That evening there was an "Ed Troxel Appreciation Night" in the Borah cafeteria, emceed by Wanek Stein, one of the outstanding players of the first Borah team.
For my two years of varsity football there was no Veterans Day game in Boise for the Lions. For some reason the “powers that be” at the time decided that the three schools – Borah, Boise, and Capital – would now take turns playing the November 11 game, but rather than changing every year, it would be every two years. That meant that players like me, who grew up thinking this would be the biggest event in their high school careers, did not get to play in the game as either juniors or seniors. Bummer. The big game my junior years was Borah-Capital, the 9th game of the year. Both teams were 8-0, the first time two teams from the “City of Trees” were undefeated and untied that late in the season. The Lions were led by quarterback Danny Cafferty on offense, while the defense was lead by linebackers Danny Hearne and Paul Hietala, and a secondary that had not given up a touchdown pass in conference play. The Eagles had plenty of weapons, including two-way player John Grant, who was later an All-American at USC and a starter on the Denver Broncos’ “Orange Crush” defense that played in the Super Bowl in the 70’s.
It was a back and forth game until Capital scored a late touchdown, and then recovered a lion fumble to seal the win, 25-21. It was the second and final SIC loss for the Lions in the decade of the 60’s. After the emotional win, the Eagles had to play Boise the next week which entered the game with a 5-4 record, but with but a single conference loss. Capital was a huge favorite, but an upset would mean that the three Boise schools would end up in a three-way tie for first in the SIC. And that is exactly what happened. The pollsters had to choose which team would be 1st in the final AP poll, and they chose the Lions, which defeated Twin Falls 59-7 in their final game, the night before the Boise upset win over Capital.
1968 was a decade after the start of the cross-town rivalry. By September of 1968, Borah was one of the best-known football programs in the West. That is not an exaggeration. Hard to believe that in 1958 the “Lions” were not yet called the Lions until late in September when the students voted to make Lion the mascot. Though we did not get to play Boise on Veterans Day in 1968, when we played them in October it was still a huge game. We had the best rushing offense in the league (which was normal for Borah in the 60’s) and were averaging over 40 points a game and allowing less than 10. It was rainy and both defenses were playing well. The Lions led 10-0 in the middle of the 3rd quarter before the Braves recovered a fumble and then scored on a fake field goal to make it 10-7. It was looking like it might be like the old days, a nail-biter to the end. However, Bill Cady ran 46 yards on fourth down, and the Lions didn’t look back. The final score was 33-7. 10 years after their first SIC championship, the Lions would do it again, going undefeated for the season, along the way getting revenge against the other school in town, Capital, 42-14. The next two years the Lions would go undefeated on the way to a 34-game winning streak (still a state record) that came to an end in 1971. The Borah Dynasty of 13 of 14 SIC championships between the seasons of 1958 and 1971 was remarkable. When the Lions lost to Meridian in 1972 it was the first time since 1959 that a team outside the city of Boise had defeated the Lions in a conference game. And there would be no SIC championship again until 1975.