THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rian Younker didn't even know what a smudge pot was until this week. But the Cal Lutheran senior defensive end is now determined to bring one back on the bus from Redlands on Saturday night.
The rivalry between the Cal Lutheran and Redlands football programs has added an extra dimension this season.
The teams will be playing for the Smudge Pot, a perpetual trophy that will be awarded to the winner each season.
CLU head coach Ben McEnroe and Redlands head coach Mike Maynard decided on a smudge pot to celebrate the citrus industries in Ventura and San Bernardino counties.
Smudge pots — also known as orchard heaters — were once used in the citrus industry to prevent frost damage to crops.
Younker wants to claim the inaugural trophy when No. 8 Cal Lutheran (2-1, 1-0) puts its 21-game Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference winning streak on the line against Redlands (1-2, 1-0) at 7 p.m.
"I don't care if it's a smudge pot, a horseshoe or a fiddle, I don't want to give anything to them," Younker said. "It doesn't matter what it is. I just want to beat them any chance I get and bring the trophy home to keep it for as long as we can."
Motivation is never a problem when these teams play.
But along with the new trophy, Redlands will likely have even more incentive after last year's stunning loss to CLU.
Playing the first game in its new stadium, CLU staged a remarkable second-half comeback to beat Redlands 28-24.
The Kingsmen trailed 24-0 at halftime before rallying to score 28 unanswered points, including the game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds remaining.
McEnroe is pretty sure the game will be mentioned a few times in the Redlands locker room.
"I know I would if I was them," he said. "When we lose heartbreakers you tend to circle that game on the calendar when you get another shot. I expect it to be an electric atmosphere at their place and for them to come out swinging and get after us a little bit. It wouldn't be a CLU-Redlands game if they didn't."
The nature of the rivalry is the reason McEnroe and Maynard wanted to introduce an annual trophy. The winner of the Smudge Pot gets to paint it in their school colors and keep it on their campus for the entire year.
"I think it can elevate the status of the rivalry and add a little bit more prestige to the contests," McEnroe said. "It's going to be about 5-feet tall, so it's going to be one of the biggest trophies in college football for sure."
No. 8 Cal Lutheran (2-1, 1-0 SCIAC) at Redlands (1-2, 1-0)
WHEN/WHERE: Today, 7 p.m. Ted Runner Stadium.
LAST YEAR: CLU defeated Redlands 28-24.
SERIES HISTORY: CLU leads 22-18.
GAME FACTS: Sr. QB Chad Hurst returned from an injury last week to help Redlands open SCIAC play with a 49-7 win over Occidental. Hurst threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns. WR Peter Adams is averaging 101 yards receiving per game. Brad Crisanty has 56 carries for 265 yards. Redlands struggled with turnovers in its first two losses with nine total. CLU Sr. WR Eric Rogers became the school's all-time leader in touchdown catches (26) with three against Pomona-Pitzer. Rogers is averaging a SCIAC-leading 10 catches and 151.3 yards per game. CLU Sr. QB Kevin Ramay is leading the SCIAC in passing (288 ypg).