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East Unions Red Sea rises school spirit tide
Sierra’s Colton Cody, left, gets the Wolfpack cheering section louder before the opening kickoff. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin
It wasn’t the Red Sea that rolled into Sierra High’s football stadium Friday night.

It was more like a moderate Tsunami.

East Union High may have lost a thrilling 30-28 varsity Valley Oak League football contest to their cross-town rivals at Sierra High but they completely blew the doors off when it came to student fan support for a visiting team.

The first clue that this was a full-scale invasion of East Union pride came during the junior varsity game. That’s when a caravan of cars - many of them with the words “EU Red Sea” painted on their windows - pulled into the Sierra High parking lot with horns blaring and EU flags waving out the windows.

That was the quiet part.

Almost from the second the junior varsity game ended to the final whistle of the varsity contest the Lancers spoke with one voice - 600 lungs strong - as the Red Sea topped The Pack in the volume department.

How loud were they? While they didn’t quite vibrate windows you definitely didn’t need a hearing aid if you were within a mile of Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.

Don’t get the idea that The Pack didn’t have a lot of growl. They did. The Pack matched the Red Sea cheer for cheer but didn’t quite have the same volume. Part of it had to do with numbers. For any high school The Pack’s turnout would have been more than impressive. But East Union turned up the notch - big time - especially for a visiting team.

With an all-girl leadership, the Red Sea even outdid The Pack with their version of “The Wave” that was a tad more energetic. But then again the Red Sea had better have great wave action.

Having said that, The Pack - the original organized student cheer section in Manteca - definitely picked up volume over last week when they were tangling with the Oakdale Mustangs.

And when it came to face paint, The Pack was untouchable. Yes, there were 21 Pack members with their faces painted with different letters to spell out “Sierra High Timberwolves.” That was a real nice touch.

Among those enjoying trying to talk above the constant vocal pounding of the Red Sea was a man who has been wearing EU’s colors with pride for 40 years - Bennie Gatto.

Gatto is the dean of chain crews in Manteca Unified having done the duties for EU home games for four decades.

“This is great (to hear),” Gatto said Friday night of the Red Sea.

Gatto may be the quintessential Manteca Unified football fan. Although his heart may belong to East Union part of his soul is with Manteca High, Sierra High, and Lathrop High. That’s because “Mr. Lathrop” is a 1945 Manteca High grad who played end for the Buffaloes.

“I was 119 pounds dripping wet,” Gatto recalled with a slight laugh.

His son Jim played four years of football for the Lancers including his freshmen year that produced the first football team ever to go undefeated at East Union High.

Of course, Lathrop students went to Sierra High for years and now that Lathrop has a high school to call its own he’s a Spartan fan as well.

Gatto spent time on the sidelines Friday with EU Principal John Alba. Across the way was part of the future face of Sierra High football - Derek Rosendin - who has been the ball boy for the Timberwolves for the past two years after a year-long stint as water boy. His dad is Sierra High cross country coach Mike Rosendin while mom Amy Rosendin is part of the Sierra High faculty.

His plans are to don a Sierra High football uniform one day.

“It’s great hanging out with the team,” Rosendin said.
Week No. 5
The Scorecard

THE FANS: It may have been all of that red in the stands that almost filled up the visitors side but whatever it was East Union came pretty darn close to matching Sierra High in crowd size. The odds are most of the 300 among the Red Sea are hoarse today as well as the 250 or so that were in The Pack. They matched cheer for cheer including “We Can’t Hear You” chants. Still, it seemed the Red Sea went just a little bit more nuts cheering solid plays by their team as well as TDs.

The nod for best flag bearers who raced in front of the stands on each score by their team has to go to Sierra. Running piggyback while yelling and foisting one arm up while holding the blue and silver standard isn’t an easy task. But then again the war charge of the Lancers flag bearer was impressive as well.

The cut-out “D” with a picket “fence” was an effective touch on EU’s part. Had the Red Sea had a bit more face paint they would have been perfect.

The shirts the student fans wore were a tossup although for sentimental value the No. 2 on the back in memory of Matt Van Geldren Zaragosa gave EU had an edge.  Both sides did their schools proud and honored the memory of two classy football players - Matt and Daniel - by conducting themselves with civility while showing enthusiasm for their teams.  GRADES: East Union, “A”, Sierra “A-“

BANDS: This is what Friday nights are all about: A good game, players with heart, big and loud crowds, sharp cheerleaders, and a band that provides virtually non-stop music.

The music execution and marching is getting better by the week. East Union - the standard for marching bands in the district - is definitely going to be challenged in the future. GRADE: “B+”

SIGNS: It was pretty tough to top last week’s Sierra effort but The Pack did. They added to last week’s sign total of 72. I was expecting them just to put up the big sign they did last week. But true champs that love their school don’t do that. This week there was a new 30- by 50-foot sign hanging from the back of the visitors bleachers. It read, “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack…. Welcome to the Den.”

Sierra isn’t afraid to kill a few trees (OK, so it’s recycled paper) for school spirit. And they do it with class. GRADE “A+”

SPIRIT SQUADS: Can those Lancer mascots move or what? In fairness a “human” mascot such as a knight makes it a lot easier to move but it does take some gumption to dance to whip up the crowd.

As far as cheerleaders go, it‘s a tough call. It was cool the way the Timberwolves cheerleaders all had their right eyes surrounded by painted paw prints.

Both sides executed well and connected with the fans. An ever-so-slight edge this week goes to Sierra High thanks to their halftime routine. It required just a tad more athleticism to pull off. GRADES: East Union “A-, Sierra: “A”

CROWD ETIQUETTE: Everyone has the right attitude. After all, half the students and parents on each side probably knew half the people on the other side. That’s what makes rivalries in Manteca so cool. You can play on the same Little league team and end up playing on different football teams or you might be involved in the Boys & Girls Club and ended up going to different high schools. It leads to friendly crowds who understand respect. “GRADES: East Union “A”, Sierra “A.”

OTHER NOTES:  That distant booming you heard Friday night wasn’t a car backfiring. It was Manteca High firing off a cannon after each Buffalo touchdown as well as after the final buzzer on their 36-0 win over Weston Ranch High. Manteca High borrowed the cannon from the Ripon JROTC. Usually the Ripon JROTC fires the cannon after every Indian score but Ripon had a bye this week.

NEXT WEEK: Will Sierra High be cannon fodder for Manteca when they travel to the home of The Herd? There’s a good chance Sierra High could match the Red Sea performance for a visiting team and give the Herd a run for their money when it comes to school spirit.