all photos Puneet Sandhu/Catalyst
A few short-lived fights, two injuries, and the point that I was not at New College really drove in.
The biggest hint was the football match.
On Nov. 11, the Riverview High School Rams had their homecoming game against the Booker Tornadoes. The Rams won 14-7, scoring their tie-breaking touchdown and extra point in the last quarter, with just over five minutes left in the game.
Everything else was lost on me, but the talkative woman sitting to my right clued me in on what was happening.
The Tornadoes scored the first touchdown of the game in the first quarter and I cheered, forgetting I had chosen a seat on the side of the Rams to avoid getting beaten up by Riverview students, who made up the majority of the crowd. After the touchdown, they “converted” for an extra point, a term I learned from Wikipedia.
Not much happened for a while after that. Guys ran at each other. Guys fell on top of each other. Guys slapped each others’ buttocks and finally I felt like I found a link to NCF.
Whenever the sports announcer made a comment about #3 for the Tornadoes, Mike Jones, fellow Catalyst staff writer Eva Gray and I cheered wildly. The Rams fans did not appreciate our cultural gusto.
I thought there was an earthquake in the second quarter, but realized the bleachers were shaking from a thousand jiving legs. The Rams got a touchdown and the Tornadoes got a penalty for “roughing the kicker” during the Rams’ convert.
The frequent violent shocks on the field would have made for great photographs if only the other players would have let them go on. Two players of the same team bumped into each other with a loud crack, which Gray described as a “whiplash concussion,” but the collision did not result in an injury. However in the second quarter, #28 for the Rams, William Dell, walked off with an injury, as did Rams player #62, Nicholas Wolosz, in the fourth quarter.
At half time, with the game still at a tie, I caught up with the Riverview Athletics Director, James Ward, to ask how the Rams have played this season.
“Well, this is one of our worst years,” Ward said. “They’ve had a pretty rough season. Right now, they are 2-7.” However, with their win that night, the Rams closed out at 3-7.
The football team Program Coordinator and assistant to the coach, Suzanne Johnson, said that as of last May, the Rams have been under a new coach, Todd Johnson, who used to play for the Chicago Bears. He also played for the St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills.
“We’re growing with a new coach,” Johnson said. “The seniors are accustomed to playing for Coach [James] Sprague and his style. Coach Johnson’s style is a little less demanding. He’s a lot quieter — he doesn’t get upset like other coaches. Coach Sprague would yell and scream and [Johnson] doesn’t do that so much, so it’s an adjustment.”
I tried to work out why a coach who does not yell at his team is a bad thing.
“But the boys are together and like brothers and they’re not fighting with each other and they’re not quitting in the middle,” she continued. “They go every minute, every second that they can.”
Despite the angry bursts on the field, Johnson said that the Rams and Tornadoes get along. “The Booker and Riverview [guys], they’ve known each other for years [so] it’s a friendly rivalry,” she said. “But tonight, you know, each one of them wants to win.”
Suddenly the third quarter started up and I was still on the field. A few football players charged right at me on their way to whatever and instead of taking photographs, I ran backwards.
I traitorously walked over to the Booker side, but no one was available for comment. Not many Tornadoes fans were in the bleachers, but the team still brought cheerleaders and a band along.
Before the game had started, there were car-floats and music and all-questionable-meat hot dogs. Cars drove the homecoming court members around the field and the Rams’ band, the Kilties, played the national anthem.
After the game, the Tornadoes packed into yellow school buses to go home but the Rams gathered on the field to celebrate their victory.