Rancho’s opening football game of the season began on August 30th, against Clark High School. For most of Rancho’s varsity team this was the first time they ever played in a “real” football game. Ron Kantowski , a well known and distinguished contributor of the Review Journal, has been following the progress of Rancho’s young team. He watched the entire game from Rancho’s sidelines and captured the true meaning of the team’s debut game and its challenges ahead to climb back on top.
It is well worth reading!
By RON KANTOWSKI LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL August 31,2013
“In a perfect world it would have been cool and crisp for what essentially was opening night of the high school football season on Friday, because high school football — and football in general — is best enjoyed when those two adjectives are applied. “
“I was headed for the middle of the city, where Clark would host Rancho. It has been a long time since the Chargers and Rams were number one in the state. Some of us remember when.
In 1988, which was my second year in town, Rancho won state in football. This was the Rams’ fourth state championship. Five years later, in 1993, Clark won state in football. That was the Chargers’ fourth state championship as well.
Rancho opened in 1954; Clark in 1965. These are schools with proud traditions; first, because that is the word, “proud,” that is almost always used with “tradition.” And also because guys like Mike Pritchard, who played at Rancho, and Nick Bell, who prepped at Clark, went on to play at Colorado and Iowa, respectively, and then they went on to play on Sunday.
Clark, which a few years back endured a 42-game losing streak, even has dropped down a classification to Division I-A. Rancho still plays with the big boys, due to its success in other sports such as baseball and soccer. But before its new school opened, Rancho practiced football in a public park, and sometimes homeless men would wander onto the field when the Rams aimed field goals at makeshift goalposts of PVC pipe.”
“As the color guard marched off the field and a gust of wind blew the big American flag over the head of the young man holding the rifle, I counted the players. Clark had 37, Rancho 35. But you could tell that Clark’s were bigger, and when the game started, you could tell the Clark players were faster, too.”
“It took the Chargers just four plays to score a touchdown. Clark scored six touchdowns; Rancho did not score any. Clark won, 39-0. Rancho, which scored only 40 points all of last season, got as close as the 2-yard line in the second quarter, when the score was 12-0.I know that media people are not supposed to do this, but I was sort of hoping the Rams could punch it in, because lord knows those kids need something to hang their helmets on.”
“After the game, after the undefeated Clark players jubilantly skipped off the field, some with a cheerleader on an arm, Tyrone Armstrong, the first-year Rancho coach, gathered the Rams on the far end of the field. He told them to get their heads up. Somebody already had shut off the scoreboard, so maybe that made it a little easier.
The grandstands were empty when I started for my car, and the Rancho players were chanting R-A-M-S in strident voices, and they were doing wind sprints and jumping jacks and other calisthenics out there in the middle of the field. They still were being true to their school.”