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Spartans, Mavericks to face off Friday in ‘Citrus Bowl’ rivalry

By Sara Beth Williams–
The annual “Citrus Bowl” is slated to take place Friday evening, Sept. 8, at San Juan High School’s football stadium, with the Mesa Verde Mavericks (2-0) facing off against the San Juan Spartans (0-2).

For decades, San Juan was the only high school in Citrus Heights. But with Mesa Verde opening in the 1970s and the advent of their first varsity football team in the 1978-79 season, an intra-city rivalry was born.

The two teams face each other every year to compete for the Citrus Bowl trophy, which is awarded by the Citrus Heights Rotary Club, and the winner keeps it until the next time they meet.

Mesa Verde Head Varsity Football Coach Leonard Casillas and San Juan High School Athletic Director Freddie Bryant are both anticipating Friday night’s annual face-off.

“We’re excited to be playing the game one last time as the home team at San Juan,” Casillas said, adding that there have been “great memories” over the years utilizing San Juan’s field.

Related: Mesa Verde High School looks forward to hosting first game in new stadium

Mesa Verde’s new state-of-the-art stadium is slated to be ready for use in October according to San Juan Unified School District Director of Communications Raj Rai. Casillas confirmed that the first game on the new field will be the school’s homecoming game against Rio Linda High School.

Bryant said he and the Spartans are “looking forward” to the upcoming matchup on Friday night, and that the young team is trying to improve their skills little by little each week.

In 2022, the Citrus Bowl was postponed due to extreme heat and poor air quality exasperated by multiple California wildfires. Once the teams faced off, the Mavericks won 53-0 and dedicated their game to a former teammate who passed away over Memorial Day Weekend earlier in the year.

San Juan High School Head Varsity Football Coach David Castillo could not be reached for comment.

The game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, according to MaxPreps, and will be live-streamed by Youtuber Ken Benedict. Tickets for the Citrus Bowl can be purchased online at

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