De Anza plays hard throughout despite absorbing final loss of winless season
on November 18, 2009
Coming into a frosty homecoming night game against Alameda High School on Nov. 13, the De Anza Dons kept their goals simple: Play hard and have fun.
“This is it, this is our big game,” said Athletic Director Mike Aloi as he paced the sidelines before kickoff. The crowd was modest, about 100 spectators, but the band wailed on their wind instruments and the players rampaged through a paper banner, a homecoming night tradition.
“You remember nights like this as a kid, the big assembly during the school day, the energy, and you have a lot of fun,” Aloi said.
Judging by the way the players shouted, hollered and subjected coach Mike Williams to an unwanted Gatorade bath, the team accomplished its goals despite the 49-7 loss –the Dons’ tenth without a win.
“These kids have a lot of heart,” said Williams, soaked and shivering after the game. “They don’t quit, and I admire that.”
De Anza suited up just 23 players for the game, most of them seniors playing in their school uniforms for the last time.
After the game, the players sprinted up a hill on the visitor’s side of the field and performed celebratory “De Anza Jacks,” a school tradition that looks like jumping jacks.
De Anza played hard all game despite Alameda scoring on a long pass on the first play of the game. By the end of the first half, De Anza trailed 35-0, but not for lack of effort.
Turnovers and porous defense hampered De Anza all night, but running back Donta Ward punched in the Dons’ lone touchdown on a 27-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
“I scored, I scored a touchdown!” Ward hollered as he jogged off the field.
The crowd remained spirited throughout, cheering at even the smallest of positive plays by the home team. Cheerleaders coach Lori Nardone kept her squad active throughout the game.
“It’s cold out here, but we couldn’t be more excited,” Nardone said.
Many of the seniors had parents in the stands cheering them on.
Phillis Carpenter, 36, a De Anza graduate, attended in support of her son, senior Aaron Carpenter.
“We were a great team when I went here,” Carpenter said. “But I tell my son, sometimes you have to lose in order to really appreciate winning.”
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