The past four seasons, regardless of records, St. Maries’ and Grangeville’s football teams have played each other close.

This year’s matchup promises to be no different.

The Lumberjacks and Bulldogs will square off Friday for both schools’ Central Idaho League opener at St. Maries High School.

“If you want to win this league, the road goes through Grangeville,” Coach Craig Tefft said. “There is always a different vibe the week leading up to this game. The kids are excited, and we feel like it’s going to be a good, close matchup.”

Grangeville (3-3) comes into Friday’s contest following a 26-8 win over Kellogg, St. Maries’ week one opponent, which the Lumberjacks (4-2) defeated 14-0.

St. Maries is fresh off a victory over Bonners Ferry Oct. 4.

The Jacks went down twice in the first quarter, as the Badgers jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the game’s first possession.

Tristan Nelson answered with a 23-yard receiving touchdown from Eli Gibson, a score that was quickly nullified by Bonners Ferry, which extended the lead with a 51-yard strike.

Down eight to start the second quarter, St. Maries responded with four unanswered touchdowns.

“I never saw any panic from the kids at any point,” Coach Tefft said. “It was just the kind of attitude as a coach that you want to see. Hopefully we can take those mistakes we made and learn from them. We are at a point in the season where the margin for error is getting pretty small.”

Eli scrambled for a 16-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter, a three-yard running score in the third and a four-yard scamper into the end zone in the fourth quarter to extend his team’s lead to 26-14. Shaun Anderson rumbled three yards for pay dirt to cap scoring at 33-14.

Eli finished with 70 yards through the air and 150 on the ground.

Sam Martin led St. Maries’ defense with five tackles, one for loss. Dylan Larson tacked on three tackles, one for loss, in the win.

Kickoff Friday between St. Maries and Grangeville is set for 7 p.m. Senior night activities begin at 6:30 p.m.

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