By Alexander Tong
The scoreboard read 39-23 as the bleachers cleared and Hornet fans rushed the field to raise their 2015 Island Bowl Champions on Oct. 2.
Just 48 minutes of play earlier, the lights went on and hundreds of spiked cleats hit the turf as the Alameda High Hornets took to the field against cross-town rivals, the Encinal Jets. Several of the players said that this is the most important game of the season, and for seniors, the most memorable.
Even the JV players recognized the significance of this game. Sophomore Nolan Floyd called it “extremely important.”
Since they had a bye week prior to their game, the Hornets had extra time to practice and properly prepare. In this time, the Hornets had been focusing, watching film and putting in extra reps to get ready for Friday night.
This matchup goes back several generations, and has a great impact on this year’s players. Starting wide receiver and defensive back Tony Riley said he was ready to step up for the rivalry game. “I’m trying to represent,” Riley, a senior, said before the game.
Even next younger players felt the weight of the game; junior starting running back Adam Joo said he takes great pride in this tradition and recognizes that he has big shoes to fill, exclaiming ¨bleed yellow and black!¨
Many Hornets have friends and past teammates who are now Jets. When asked how competing against familiar faces might affect how he would play, defensive back Josh Bolding said, ¨No, it´s strictly business.”
Floyd, captain of the JV squad, agreed. “Of course not. I want to win just as bad as they do.”
Many in town eagerly anticipate the Island Bowl each year, as old friends reunite, fans fill seats and players prepare. While both sides of the field strain their voices to chant the loudest and possibly get on television, the players go through their pregame routines. Listening to music, eating and stretching, are all cornerstone elements of the Hornets’ pregame ritual.
As soon as the National Anthem passed, the players took the field for kickoff. Within the first drive, the Hornets pushed their way through the Encinal defense, leaving them within scoring range. In a matter of seconds, Joo ran the ball into the endzone.
It was a good night for Riley, who caught for two touchdowns and denied a vital completion to end Encinal’s drive.
On the next drive, right off the bat, the Jets dropped the kickoff, allowing Bolding, a juniot, to recover the pass. The drive after that, Riley caught quarterback Devin Nash’s bullet, then dashed towards the end zone for another touchdown with five minutes left to go in the half.
In addition to the game, the halftime show was also exciting. An artsy and acrobatic performance entertained both Jets and Hornets fans. Another interesting and rousing part of the halftime was the powder throw, brought out by Alameda High’s leadership students. Many spectators were dazzled. “All the participants had good energy,”said junior Gyasi Pigott.
The Hornets did not let off the accelerator, drilling the Jets with their defense. Late in the fourth quarter, sophomore Kenden Robinson intercepted the pass, brightening the light at the end of the tunnel. With 1:42 left, Nash secured the win with the kneel.
After the mass of fans charged the field, the Hornets posed for a team picture holding their golden trophy to parade their Hornet Pride.