By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford defensive nose tackle Sione Fua and California linebacker J.D. Holt were teammates at Crespi High in Encino and had their own big game every year with Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks.
When Holt committed to Cal, Fua was already at Stanford. "I told him I couldn't be friends any more," Fua said smiling.
And so the annual banter leading up to Saturday's 12:30 p.m. Big Game in Berkeley begins.
"One of us is going to be happy on Saturday night," Fua said. "I definitely want to win so I can rub it in his face."
Unfortunately for Fua, Holt has been on the winning side the past two years and when the two talk this week, the Bears' second leading tackler will be more than happy to remind Fua of that.
At least they still have Crespi, and their battles against Notre Dame.
"Well, we always lost to them but Holt is a great player," Fua said.
Fua, who has four sacks for the Cardinal this season, still has fond memories of his prep rivalry though, and likens it to the Big Game.
"They would bring the teams together for a press conference," he said. "The game would always bring out the biggest crowds. The stadium was packed and there would be people standing everywhere. It was the biggest game of the year."
School rallies would bring the whole school, and the community, together for a common cause.
"The players would be locked in and ready to go," Fua said. "Everybody would be ready for that game."
Andrew Luck's Stratford High team in Texas butted heads with Memorial High in their prep big game. Getting ready meant an organized walk around campus leading up to a Thursday night bonfire.
"There was a little more buzz in a suburban area that week," Luck said.
Stratford and Memorial are six miles apart on the western end of Houston, separated by the Sam Houston Beltway, a toll road. The high schools share Katy Freeway.
Crespi and Notre Dame high schools are divided by the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area off Highway 101, 6.27 miles apart.
Marecic wins Hornung weekly honor
Stanford's two-way standout Owen Marecic was named one of the Hornung Award's national "top performers of the week" following his two touchdown, and key pass-breakup performance at Arizona State on Saturday.
Marecic, whose two-way heroics have already led him to four Hornung Award honors, picked up his third and fourth rushing touchdowns of the season in Tempe. The second, with 5:14 left in the game, gave the Cardinal a 17-13 lead.
Marecic, who started both ways for the seventh time this season, made three tackles on Saturday and also broke up a Steven Threet pass during ASU's last drive of the game, leading to Stanford's ninth win of the season. Two of Marecic's tackles came in the fourth quarter.
Marecic has rushed for four touchdowns on 18 carries with 37 yards this season on the ground; caught nine passes for 75 yards—including one catch for 10 yards at ASU; and made 35 tackles, one sack and two interceptions in his first year as a starter.
The Big Sail, Spike and Splash
Stanford and California will also battle for superiority on the San Francisco Bay, inside Haas Pavilion and at the Spieker Aquatics Center.
The sailing teams from both schools will take to the bay off the waters of the St. Francis Yacht Club on Tuesday, while the men's water polo teams and women's volleyball teams meet Friday night in Berkeley.
Cal already has clinched the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season title in water polo but Stanford has plenty of motivation. A win would boost confidence and create momentum heading into the MPSF tournament at Stanford. It would also likely mean a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the tournament, which determines the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, which will be at Cal.
The Stanford women's volleyball team will be looking for some vengeance after the Bears beat Stanford in Maples Pavilion. The two teams are currently tied for first place, each with a 13-2 conference record.
Cal is coached by Palo Alto native Rich Feller. Luck's younger sister, Mary Ellen, is a freshman defensive specialist for Stanford.
"It's a big match for them," said the older brother, who hopes to be at the match.
Big Game Notes
California has won seven of the past eight Big Games . . . Stanford (6-1, 9-1) has never won 10 games during the regular season, and has produced 10-win seasons three times: 1926, 1940 and 1992 . . . The Cardinal is averaging 24.9 first downs a game, third in the Pac-10 and 11th nationally . . . Stanford has forced 21 turnovers, compared to 13 at this point last season . . . Stepfan Taylor is 151 yards from reaching 1,000, which would make him the first sophomore to reach the plateau since Darrin Nelson did it in 1978. Only five other running backs in Stanford history have rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season: Nelson, school record-holder Toby Gerhart, Brad Muster, Jon Volpe and Tommy Vardell . . . Stanford won the first Big Game, 14-10, before an overflow crowd of 20,000 at the Haight Street Grounds in San Francisco on March 10, 1892.