Oakland Tech Bulldog fans pack the bleachers at first home game of the season
on September 26, 2011
Loud cheers, bright lights and the smell of meat cooking on the grill took over Oakland Technical High School’s football field on Friday night as the Bulldogs hosted the Pinole Valley High Spartans in Tech’s first home game of the season.
While the Bulldogs came up short on the field, losing 22-16, the home fans were loud and proud throughout the game, and the wooden bleachers were packed with family, friends and neighbors who committed their Friday night to watching Tech.
Some have been coming to games for years. “I’m here to see my son,” said Losaline Havea, wearing a pair of jeans and a purple and black shirt, as she took her sideline seat before the game. “I’ve never missed a game since he was playing junior varsity. Me and my friend come to every game.”
From the opening kickoff until both teams left the field after the fourth quarter, Tech supporters yelled cheers like “O-T,” “Defense!” and “Let’s go!” that could be heard from the opposite side of the field, on the sparsely-peopled visitors’ side.
The sun went down during the second quarter, and the temperature dropped. Even with cooler temperatures and chilly wind, the morale of the Tech fans never faltered—they simply huddled together under blankets, ate warm hot dogs and sausages fresh off the concession stand grill, and kept on cheering.
“I was going to get two hot dogs but they sold out,” one spectator said to his friend as he returned to the stands. His friend replied, “I know they sold out because you only came back with one.”
Tech supporters spent the game cheering on the Bulldogs without help from the school’s official team motivators—the cheerleaders, who were unable to lead the crowd from the sidelines because they didn’t have their uniforms. Instead, the Tech cheerleaders held true to their titles by cheering from the stands.
“We order new uniforms every year,” cheerleader Courtney Avery said. “They just haven’t arrived yet.”
Garrison Brame, a student at Tech, wore pom-poms stuffed into her boots. “I’m wearing my pom-poms to each game until the cheerleaders can raise money for their own.”
Down on the field, a close and intense game took place. Tech was the first to score and convert a two-point conversion, taking an 8-0 during the first half. But the Tech fans were quieted in the third quarter, as Pinole Valley scored 22 unanswered points. “I’m nervous for them,” Tech student Aryana Butler said as she watched the game from the second row of bleachers with other Tech students. “I’m just hoping they’re going to win.”
With just over five minutes left in the game, Tech scored and converted a two-point conversion to close within 22-16. The Bulldogs rallied in the final minutes in an effort to tie the game, but the Spartans’ defense held on, sacking Tech sophomore quarterback James Lewis to end the game.
The loss drops Oakland Tech’s record to one win and two losses on the season, while Pinole Valley is 2-2.
As the Bulldogs headed home, Bulldogs receiver and safety Malik Gresham expressed disappointment with the loss.
“It was a pretty exciting game,” said Gresham, still wearing his jersey though he had changed into jeans. “But we should have won that game, in my view.”
“We made mistakes, and people were out with injuries,” he continued. “In the first half we were doing good, and in second half we just came down. But we’re going to work hard next week and go get this win [against Benicia High School].”
The once loud Tech fans were quiet as they left the stands after the loss, but they still had faith in the team, Brame said.
“I’m pretty sad the game’s over and we didn’t win our first home game,” she said, holding her pom-poms, on her way out. “But it’s the first of many games, and I believe the Bulldogs can fight back.”
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