Charter Oak Chargers vs San Marino Titans. (Photo by Julian Castro)
Charter Oak High School

Player vs fan: how the game is seen from two sides

The game of football is one of the most watched and most played sports in the country. Unsurprisingly, many fans are current and former players themselves. However, many fans have never played, but they enjoy watching the game just as much. For Charter Oak’s second round CIF game at San Marino, The Bolt Live decided to recognize the sport from both views. I suited up for the game as I usually do, and my colleague Jessica Carreon watched it from the stands.

Andres Soto: For me, the game started hours before kickoff. As soon my last class ended, I was in the locker room with my teammates and coaches getting mentally ready for San Marino. By 4 p.m. we were dressed, taped, and in pre-game meetings going through the game plan one last time. The time flew by, and it was time to board the bus. We usually take school buses, but since we were in the playoffs, we traveled on a nice charter bus. Most of the team fell asleep, but I couldn’t. With music blasting in my earphones, my mind was too active to rest. Time fast forwarded because suddenly were pulling up to San Marino’s campus. Warm-ups flew by, too, and then just minutes later the game began.

Jessica Carreon: Going to football games has been one of my favorite high school Friday night pastimes. But with this game, it was different: the vibe of excitement was heightened. Starting from the time my friend and I climbed in the car to the game, all we could talk about was our football team. After arriving, we hurried up to the bleachers to take seats, and only one thing crossed my mind: so many people had high hopes for the team.

The first half was a blur for me. I was nervous at first because our offense had a three-and-out, and San Marino scored a field goal right away. But all that went away when we started scoring. Once we got the ball moving, we could not be stopped, and next thing I knew, it was halftime: score 28-10.

During the first half, the points on the scoreboard showed that the opposing team did not have a chance. Charter Oak showed no sign of stopping, and the Charger fans were buzzing with excitement. Our cheers and claps of support were loud enough to make a person lose her hearing for a few days.

At halftime, I took everything in as the coaches told us to keep our foot on the pedal and not let up. We made adjustments and headed out to finish the game and San Marino’s season.

When it was halftime, we all burst into conversations about the game and food. In a large crowd, we made our way to the concession stand, trying to hurry back to our seats. We all had huge grins, obviously happy with the way the game was going. Finally it was time to get back to the game, and we refocused our attention to the players. Worried, we could see some players lying on the sidelines while athletic trainers worked with them. This caused some unease in the crowd, but gratefully, the players were soon up and determined to get back on the field.

The second half was a lot more vivid. I felt frustrated when San Marino came within four points in the third, but we just kept fighting on and never looked back. A few key players started cramping, but after fighting through through the pain, they made it back onto the field. Then we got our momentum back and scored a few more times.

Faces shifted: looks of hope, happiness, anxiety and, at one point, fear. It was the middle of the third quarter, and the score was 35-31. Frustration and fear radiated through the crowd. Some men behind me cursed and spit seeds to relieve their tension. Others murmured among themselves, discussing plays the team should use. The fear did not last long; CO pulled together and pulled ahead.

Our defense shut SM down in the fourth quarter. The clock ran out, and I felt ecstatic. All my years of high school, we had never advanced past the second round, but tonight, my senior season, we did it. We beat San Marino, and we were advancing to the semis. It felt as if a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders.

Final score: 49-31. The crowd cheered and hugged. The relief was tangible: the win was ours. People were animated and recapped the game, praising the team. Walking out of the stadium, we had a spring of excitement in our step. On the way home, the car was filled with conversation about the game. Happiness filled the air as we bounced in our seats; not once did our smiles show any signs of leaving our faces.

So many people told us we could not do it: we are too small, we are not physical enough, we are not the same team we were two years ago. None of that mattered anymore because we finally did it. All obstacles of the past four years vanished, and the best part—we are not done yet! I never had a sweeter bus ride home, and I cannot wait to do it all over again next week in the semi-finals.