Memorial Stadium packed for first East football game
Aug. 27, 2010 at 3:27 a.m.
As kickoff neared, a group of shirtless Victoria East High School Titans stood in the front row of Memorial Stadium, their chests spelling out, "TAT!"
They were waiting for six other freshmen football players, who would complete their exclamation - "GO TITANS!"
Behind their roped-off section of seating, called the "Bleacher Beasts," was a sea of red.
By all accounts, and despite a new high school half the size of its predecessor, Memorial Stadium was more packed than it had been in years.
"It's just because we're East," yelled the exclamation point, Ethan De La Garza. "They know this team's going to state."
The Bleacher Beasts are what Kristie Dicken called a new and improved version of Memorial High School's Bleacher Creatures.
Dicken was there with a group of cheerleader moms, all decked out in new East Titan shirts.
"It's changed the way kids get excited about their school," Dicken said of the split both students and the cheerleader moms have embraced. "It's made everyone more tight-knit."
Just then, Connor Cross approached Dickens and gave her a hug.
He was wearing a West Warriors T-shirt.
"Even though he's at the other campus, we still love him," Dicken said. "We still have to keep our friendships."
Connor, a sophomore football player at West, said he wasn't intimidated to be surrounded by a stadium full of East-loyalists.
"I went to school with them my whole life," Connor said. "It doesn't seem any different to me."
Connor said he was rooting for the Titans against their rivals, the Harlingen South Hawks.
"Until we play them," he clarified.
West football players were scattered about the crowd.
Xavier Ramos, a sophomore Warrior, said, "I actually came here to see my friends and support them. They're still family."
It seemed no matter a person's school sympathies, Victorians were fired up for the new rivalry.
That's what Frank Sepeda, who was taking tickets at the front gate, attributed to the huge crowd he'd seen pass through.
Sepeda said he has worked football games for 16 years and had not seen a bigger crowd.
"The newer schools have a lot more following," Sepeda said. "They want to set up their own traditions and spirit. I guess the other school had just worn out its spirit."
Sepeda said the crowds reminded him of excitement the Victoria High and Stroman High rivalry brought about a decade ago.
"Parents know about it. We've lived through it at Stroman and Victoria," she said. "We know a rivalry can bring a school all under one spirit and pump each other up."