Clear Lake High (Lakeport) vs. Kelseyville High has been one of the most celebrated rivalries in the North Bay for decades. While the winner of the football game always gets bragging rights for the year, there has not been a perpetual trophy that resides at the victorious school until the next time they meet, such as is the case with other rivalries. Stanford and Cal have the Stanford Ax, Miami and Florida State have the Florida Cup, Penn State and Minnesota have the Governor’s Victory Bell, but Clearlake and Kelseyville have never had a physical trophy for bragging rights… until now.
When the Kelseyville Varsity stepped onto the field to play Clear Lake High Friday, September 24, 2010, it marked the beginning of a new tradition: The “Bass Bowl.” In addition to bragging rights, the winner of the First Annual Bass Bowl (Kelseyville High School) received a perpetual trophy of a carved wood bass to hold until the next meeting between the two schools.
The Bass Bowl is the brain child of Kelseyville varsity coach Rob Ishihara and local building contractor, Boone Bridges, both alumni of Kelseyville High. On Monday, September 20, 2010, they began to discuss ideas that could make the rivalry more interesting. They took their conversation into Phil Smoley’s office (Broker, CPS Country Air Properties), and began exploring ideas what to call the game. Pear Bowl, Konocti Cup, and Walnut Bowl were all considered. Then Bridges popped up with “Bass Bowl,” and all agreed that was the right name. Smoley looked up to see if bassbowl.com was available, tied it up, and created a quick web site for it.
The next day, Ishihara shared the idea with Dave Lucido and John Ussery of First American Title. Less than a half an hour later, they came back to the office with the wood carved bass that they got from Ed, owner of Tackle-It in Lakeport. All agreed that this would make an ideal perpetual trophy to be fought for each year. As more ideas were being kicked around (a parade, pageant, scholarship, etc.) Smoley realized that the school principals better be advised, and on Wednesday he brought them up to speed. Both were very supportive of the concept, with reservations related to doing too much too soon. Clear Lake High principal Steve Gentry said “We should have been brought in to this from the beginning, not 2 days prior to the event.” Smoley replied: “This is the beginning!” After adjusting to the short notice aspect of the proposal, both Gentry and Kelseyville principal Matt Cokerton agreed to the trophy element for the upcoming game, but requested that more planning go into the other elements for possible inclusion in future years. Local media was informed, and by Friday night, Bass Bowl I was ready to go, just 4 days after the idea’ s inception.
Ishihara played in 4 rivalry games in the 90’s, winning 2 of them as Kelseyville’s starting quarterback. “If we had something like this to play for back when I was playing, it would have only added more emphasis on winning the big game,” Ishihara theorized. “When I took the job I was told if I only win one game my first year, I needed to beat Clear Lake. No matter what each team’s record is each year, this game is always a big one for both teams…”
If the reaction to receiving the Bass Bowl Trophy by the Kelseyville team is any indication, the Bass Bowl concept will be a success.