Oilers win first homecoming game in nine years
on October 24, 2009
With 5.2 seconds left in a home game against De Anza High School Friday, the Richmond High School Oilers scored a winning touchdown, but the team achieved much more.
For the first time in nine years, the Oilers experienced what it’s like to win a homecoming football game.
“I’m excited. I feel wonderful–this is the first homecoming game we won,” said Richmond High senior Shannen Edwards, a wide receiver who won co-offensive player of the game. “We’re a bunch of great guys and got the right coach now.”
Head Coach Jeff Tyner, who first landed at Richmond High as a campus police officer last year, is the head of a completely new line of coaches. Though quick to admit the team has a long way to go before becoming competitive, he said the team’s coaching staff is doing an outstanding job with their players.
“For years this team was only winning one game or not even finishing the season,” Tyner said. “We may only be 3-5 this season, but the pendulum is at least swinging in another direction.”
For the last decade, football at Richmond and De Anza hasn’t been pretty. Losing records and unfinished seasons have become the norm.
In the last two weeks both were handed shut-out losses by Berkeley High School and El Cerrito High School. Richmond lost to Berkeley 41-0 and El Cerrito 61-0, while De Anza lost to Berkeley 69-0 and El Cerrito 40-0.
Friday night’s game between the cross-city rivals was a rare, evenly-matched game marked by an exciting back-and-forth that ended in Richmond’s 22-17 win.
“We prepared for this. We knew it would come down to the end with these guys,” said Tyner, the Richmond head coach.
To sustain the team’s momentum, another concern is making sure the students stay academically eligible to play.
Bad grades have hampered the team’s ability to retain talented players for all three years, Tyner said.
“We stay on top of those grades. This is all about showing them how hard work can pay off,” Tyner said. Football players attend mandatory Wednesday study sessions to keep them on track, he said.
As for parent participation and more student support, that’s another challenge, he said.
Because the home team’s new bleachers are unfinished, about 150 Richmond High supporters filled up half of the visiting side’s bleachers and at least 50 De Anza supporters populated the other half.
According to Shannen Edwards’ mother, Gail Edwards, and his aunt, Andrea Creswell, there were more people watching the homecoming game than at other home games. Both of them remember when attendance and enthusiasm for Richmond High football and homecoming was much higher.
Creswell, who was a freshman princess on the 1979 homecoming game, remembers the stands being packed. She also recalls winning seasons and creative floats for the half-time homecoming celebration.
This year, Homecoming King Francisco Navarro, wearing a red t-shirt, was crowned. He was the only boy to run for the title.
“Its not like a big thing,” said Navarro, who is more excited anticipating soccer tryouts in three weeks. Homecoming Queen Hazel Ahumada was crowned in her cheerleading outfit. Instead of being carried in a float, a go-cart slowly introduced the winners to a crowd congratulating them for their titles.
But Tyner, who said he is enjoying developing a rapport with more students, is positive he can improve overall school spirit through his academic job as a student resource officer and through his job as head football coach.
“I love football coaching,” Tyner said. “It’s my way of meeting more kids and breaking down barriers between them and showing them a different light.”
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