Cowboy Enterprise: Border War pits brother against brother
LARAMIE, Wyo. -- The football teams from Wyoming and Colorado State will square off in the "Border War" for the 95th time Saturday in War Memorial Stadium.
The UW-CSU series is one of the oldest interstate rivalries west of the Mississippi River, dating back to Nov. 30, 1899.
At stake is the Bronze Boot, a traveling trophy made from a combat boot worn by a Colorado State graduate in Vietnam. The Bronze Boot portion of the "Border War" dates back to 1968.
But the Wyoming-Colorado State series is more than just a catchy name and an old army boot. It's about bragging rights and relationships.
The game annually pits brother against brother, family against family and friend against friend.
It brings together former high school teammates on opposite sides and gives business associates something to talk a little smack about.
That's what happens when two old rivals are a mere 65 miles apart, compete in the same conference, and recruit a lot of the same players.
"Not only are we geographically located within an hour of each other, look at all the kids on our team from the Front Range," said first-year Wyoming coach Joe Glenn. "They have to go home and look at those people in the face at Christmas, spring break and over the summer. It's the mano a mano part that you walk a little taller when you win and you know that your team was a little bit better when you win. If you live amongst them, you walk a little taller."
While this year's "Border War" has a significant meaning to a lot of folks, it is something extra special to brothers Jeff and John Flora from Arvada, Colo., and brothers Tyler and Shane Powell from Yuma, Colo.
Jeff Flora is a starting senior linebacker for Colorado State, while John Flora is the sophomore starting "buck" for Wyoming.
Tyler Powell is a senior backup punter for the Rams, while Shane Powell in a junior backup middle linebacker for the Cowboys.
"Jeff and I are actually best friends. We hang out all the time," said Flora, who moved into the Wyoming starting lineup this season. "We talked to each other on the phone all the time. We feed off one another in that we motivate each other. When we lived together we were pushing each other to the max. We want each other to succeed and be the best we possibly can."
The Flora brothers have always been close, and there was hope at one time that they could end up playing together like they did for one season at Arvada West under Coach Dave Logan.
"The last time we played together and the game ended, we cried on the field," Flora said. "I was recruited by CSU, but it was Wyoming that showed the most interest. They acted like they wanted me more, and I thought this was a good fit for me. Now we have a little rivalry going between my brother and me. When it comes down to Saturday's game it is all about getting the 'W' for the 'Pokes."
Flora said his family would be at the Border War Saturday, but would try to remain as neutral as possible.
"My dad graduated from CSU, but the whole family is going to be wearing brown and green and rooting for the defenses," Flora said.
While both the Floras were scholarship players, the Powells ended up at their respective schools as walk-ons.
"We talk all the time," Powell said of his relationship with his older brother Tyler. "We had a rivalry and competition ever since we were little kids. This game is a big deal for me. Most of my family went to CSU and a lot of my friends are down there."
Powell spent this past summer in Fort Collins, Colo., working and working out with his brother and several other Colorado State players.
"Every day after work I would go do my workout and they would do theirs," Powell said. "We hung out a lot this summer."
The Wyoming-CSU connection doesn't stop with the Floras and the Powells.
There are many more ties:
--Wyoming starting junior center Trenton Franz is from Fort Collins and played his prep football at Rocky Mountain High School. His older brother, Derek, was the starting place-kicker for Colorado State in 1997-98.
--Wyoming starting sophomore place-kicker Deric Yaussi is also from Fort Collins and played his prep football at Poudre High School. Yaussi's parents have since relocated to Laramie.
--Wyoming starting junior weakside linebacker Guy Tuell's older sister, Kevann, is in her first year as an assistant athletics trainer at Colorado State. Kevann is a former Wyoming student athletics trainer.
--Colorado State head strength and conditioning coach Greg Scanlan (1991-93) and Ram assistant strength and conditioning coach Jason Dreessen (1996-99) are both UW graduates and former Cowboy football players. Dreessen's younger brother, Joel, is a junior on the CSU football team and the Rams' outstanding starting H-back.
A quick look at this year's Wyoming roster reveals that there are 37 Cowboys who hail from the state of Colorado. There are four Wyoming players on this year's Colorado State roster.
Meanwhile, Colorado State has 44 players on its roster from Colorado. And as one would expect, both schools recruited most all of the Colorado players as well as some others.
The Wyoming player biographicals in the school's media guide reveals at least 28 Cowboys were also recruited by Colorado State. They included starting quarterback Casey Bramlet; wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Jovon Bouknight; offensive linemen Franz, Chase Johnson and Jason Karcher; tight end Aaron Robbins; defensive linemen Zach Morris and Jacob Bonde; linebacker Tuell; and defensive backs Jacque Finn and Derrick Martin.
Other Cowboys who were recruited by the Rams are quarterbacks Corey Bramlet and Zach Weidenaar; running backs Ivan Harrison and C.R. Davis; wide receiver Josua Tima; offensive linemen Ben Penfold and Dan Fisher; defensive linemen Adam Diehl, Jake Mayes and Mike Groover; linebackers Luke Chase and Matt Chase; and defensive backs Andre LaCaille, Terrell Vinson and John Wendling.
The Colorado State media guide also had biographicals on Ram players, but the book did not list who else had been recruiting them. Many of those players on the current CSU roster were also on Wyoming's recruiting list.
"The 'Border War' is about bragging rights, and it helps in recruiting," Glenn added. "If we can beat Colorado State, it makes it easier to go into some of those Front Range schools."
Colorado State leads the overall "Border War" series 51-38-5, and has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the schools.
Wyoming still holds an edge in the Bronze Boot series, 18-17.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- NCAA settles concussion suit with $70M fund
- OU RB meets with police over alleged assault
- OK State has APR penalty rescinded by NCAA
- Kentucky great 'Wah Wah' Jones dies at 88