Del Oro fans flocked to state football game

By: Joyia Emard Loomis News Editor
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Thousands of Del Oro High School fans showed up in Southern California to cheer on the Golden Eagles in their first-ever state bowl game last Saturday. And while the scoreboard may have spelled defeat for the reigning SacJoaquin Section Division III champs at 35-24, Del Oro fans said they felt nothing but pride and admiration for the Loomis Basin boys who never gave up. Doug and Karen Goodale, of Loomis, made the trip to Home Depot Center, in Carson, for the CIF State Football Championships. The couple said they’ve been attending Del Oro games for 20 years and their youngest son, Kyle, was recently crowned Homecoming King. Karen Goodale said, “It’s very fitting for these seniors (to be here.) They set a school record as freshman for least points scored against them and now they’re setting another record – being the first to go to a state bowl game.” “Win or lose, it doesn’t matter, they are already winners. Just to make it this far.” Del Oro parent Michael Gallagher, of Loomis, called the game a “once in a lifetime opportunity. I told my son and daughter, ‘If they make state, we’re going.’” When asked how he would feel if the yeam were to lose, Gallagher said, “I won’t be too disappointed. I’m proud of them.” Home Depot Center officials estimated attendance at the game against Helix High School on Dec. 17, at approximately 5,000. Almost 3,000 of those sat on the Del Oro side. Lisa Lewinson (nee Schimmick), Class of 1976, now lives in Torrance, but came out for the game wearing her son’s old Del Oro football jersey. She said she was Coach Steve Birch’s Sunday school teacher when he was a child. She said, “I got tears, I’m so proud of Del Oro. People don’t understand the small town feeling of Loomis.” Rick and Terry Bryce, of Lincoln, rode the chartered rooter bus to the game because they wanted to support the team and the community. “There is so much Del Oro pride,” Terry Bryce said. Another parent, Lisa Rand, said her son Skyler plays for the Golden Eagles. “It’s so much fun to see the community here. Driving down, we saw lots of Del Oro stickers on cars.” Del Oro freshman Bree Huggins, 14, rode the student rooter bus down for the game. She said the trip was “lots of fun.” “It was pretty cool, we painted our faces, sang songs,” Bree said, as she sported black and gold paint on her face. Sophomore Ciara Webber, 15, said two students on the bus were actually studying for finals, which began on Tuesday. In the last few minutes of the game, Del Oro alumnus Jeff Tooker, assistant superintendent for the Placer Union High School District and a former Del Oro vice principal, said, “I’m so proud of these kids. With a program like Del Oro’s, it was just a matter of time before they were here.” After the game, tears were shed both in the stands and on the field, as the dream season came to an end. Coach Steve Birch said he was thankful the team got to spend an extra two weeks together readying for the championship game. He said of the team, “They’re a great group of guys. They never quit, never gave up. We played hard.” He also appreciated the crowd support, and said, “The fans were amazing. We’ve had unbelievable support.” Casey Taylor thanked the community for its support and said of his team, “Our guys are resilient. They never give up. They’re class act guys. It’s been a great experience for our town.” Janie Taylor, Casey’s, sat in the stands with her children, watching the game. She said the team showed everyone by their play that “they deserved to be here.” Of her husband, she said, “It’s more than a job – it’s our whole life. He’s dedicated and he loves football. It’s very hard to get this far and lose, but we’re very proud.” The town of Loomis was planning a short parade down Taylor Road on Wednesday to honor the 2011 Del Oro Golden Eagles football team. Ed Church, of Newcastle, parent of a Del Oro freshman daughter, said, “No matter the outcome, we’ve had an awesome season.”