By Stephenson Beck
The rivalry between LaVell Edwards and Air Force head coach Fisher DeBerry has been one-sided. Edwards leads the series 12-2.
“We have had some great games, unfortunately we have come up on the short end of the stick too many times,” DeBerry said.
Even with the large series advantage, the two losses have been especially painful.
In 1998, Air Force won 20-13 in the final WAC championship game, a defeat which Edwards admitted was one of his greatest coaching disappointments.
On Saturday, Sept. 9, the Cougars will be returning to Falcon Stadium for the first time since 1995, when Air Force crushed them 38-12.
Saturday is the Mountain West Conference opener, and the two winningest coaches in the conference will square off. Together Edwards and DeBerry own 379 career victories heading into their final showdown.
The Falcons have won the two of the last three games in the series, and are coming off an impressive victory last week. Lost in the hoopla caused by BYU’s overtime victory was Air Force’s 55-6 crushing of Cal State-Northridge in its season opener.
The Falcon’s set six new conference records, including rushing yards (583), total yards (698) and margin of victory (49).
With both teams riding high after victories, the conference opener Saturday is that much more important.
“We certainly want to get off to a good start in the conference race. It is better to be looking down than to be looking up,” DeBerry said.
While BYU is known for its passing game, Air Force is famous for its option offense.
Edwards attributes sticking with their own philosophies as being the key to the coaches lengthy careers.
Although the offenses often take the spotlight, DeBerry said he believes that is not the reason for BYU’s success.
“I felt all along that their defense and kicking game was the strength of their football team,” DeBerry said.
The Cougar defense will attempt to stop Falcon quarterback Mike Thiessen who last game threw for 75 yards and rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcon defense is also up against a powerful offense, led by MWC Co-offensive Player of the Week Bret Engemann. Engemann threw for 318 of his 447 yards in the second half of last week’s victory over Virginia.