West party to prepare for rivalry (video)
Going to the game
• WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Friday
• WHERE: Memorial Stadium
• COST: $7 at the gate
It is his last chance.
West High School quarterback Garrett Rother has yet to beat East High School in the big rivalry.
But this year, his senior year, he thinks they can pull off a win.
"It is just a huge thing in the town - the crosstown rivalry," Rother said. "And we haven't won before, but I am very confident we will win this year. We are all really prepared."
And not just prepared on the field, Rother said, but the Party in the Parking Lot at West on Thursday helped pep up the crowd, too.
"It gets all the kids interacted and brings more kids to the game, to get the crowd there," Rother said. "We need them there to confuse the other team. I don't think people know how important the crowd is, but they are so important."
Leisha Dioguardi, Victoria West PTO president, said to get the student body and parents excited for the game was one reason for the party, which included free hot dogs, blow-up slides, loud music and dunking booths.
But the main reason went deeper than a football game.
"More than anything, since the split, what both schools are lacking is tradition," Dioguardi said. "So really, what we are trying to establish is some traditions, since everything we are doing is brand new."
Dioguardi said the PTO and other organizations put together a tailgate on the night of the first game between East and West.
To get more students involved, however, the PTO started the Party in the Parking Lot in 2011, since it was right after school and on campus.
Jennifer Johnson, assistant vice president of the PTO, and mother of Chaz Johnson, senior outside linebacker for the team, said the event served about 600 students.
She said the PTO, which paid $2,000 for food and games, wanted to give back to the school.
"We are trying to bring our students together," Johnson said. "We want a family environment here at West, which we have."
She said the party was also meant to reward students after a week of benchmark testing.
Chaz hopes the event brings out a big crowd to Friday's game.
"We have not won against East yet, so this is our game, this is our year," Chaz said.
West head coach Leonard McAngus said the party boosted the morale of the players and students.
"I just think it pulls everyone together and gets everyone focused on the same thing," McAngus said.