There is an immeasurable sense of brotherhood and fellowship that exists between people that have been football teammates. I’m talking about real football – not that game you play at the park with your older brothers, though that is a wonderful way to refine your skills. I’m talking two-a-days, mid-summer heat, sprints for five straight days, and haven’t even seen a football on the field yet. Then you finally get your helmet and pads.
Let the hitting begin!
There is nothing that will bond you like getting up close and personal with a teammate during hitting drills. People start dropping by the wayside, giving excuses why they aren’t willing to continue and they walk away. But the ones that tough it out are your brothers until the day you die. I have people I’ve known my entire life that I probably wouldn’t drive across a parking lot to say hi to. However, for a former football teammate I’d drive halfway across the state to have coffee with, as long as he was buying. There is no bond like the football bond when it comes to sports. Playing an entire season together – many spending four during high school – forges a relationship in blood, sweat, pain, and tears.
I know in a recent column I made a chauvinistic remark regarding my belief that women cannot truly grasp and enjoy the greatness that is football, because they did not play it. I now realize how ridiculous that is because I also want to include men that never played it! Sorry. I accept that you both love the game of football, as you should; it’s the greatest sport on Earth. But to expect that you have the same connection to something you’ve never played, as opposed to someone that gave part of themselves to that sport? If that is chauvinism, then call me Burt Reynolds, and send me on the longest yard. I’m sure a large majority of men that played are going to read that and tell their significant other, “Teicheira likes to stir the pot. I don’t believe any of that.” Guess what? They do, and they shouldn’t be afraid to say it. Men it seems are continually having things taken away in the gender-homogenized world of today. But ladies, you will never … ever … have our beloved game of football.
(On behalf of the Manteca Bulletin, let it be noted that Chris Teicheira speaks for himself and should never be taken seriously.)
Where was I? Oh yeah: Lifetime Football Bonds. I attended my first Manteca High game at Guss Schmeidt Field when I was 4 years old, and oddly enough it was to watch my dad play. It was an Alumni game in 1976 between MHS and The Other School (known by some as East Union High). It is one of my earliest memories. I remember arriving with my mom, her friend Candy Kalin and son Scott. Scott’s dad Steve was also playing. We thought we were big shots. Our dads are in the game and we are eating that disgusting pink popcorn that was pressed into a brick. But what I remember most was older guys in green and white. They knew our names and said things like, “You boys gonna play out there someday?” We both did, and over the years the old timers in the stands change but not the spirit. From the late Wally Fagundes, Manuel Valverde and The “Old Geezer Crew” to the Block M Alumni Crew on the field, spearheaded by Keith Jackson and his cohorts. I can’t speak for the other schools in town, but I sure hope the kids at those games are getting the same experience I did when young. There may be three different high schools here, but love and family is what bonds us as Mantecans.
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Glory days past
I had the opportunity to speak with some former players in town. I asked if they’d share a short story from their high school playing days in Manteca, whether it be funny, inspirational, disappointing, etc. I’m hoping to be able to run a short “Glory Days Past” from a different player each week throughout football season and would love to a few hear from you old timers.
• MARK KACKLEY, East Union, Class of 1991: “My first year of varsity football started out just like every other year with a physical and the dreaded hernia exam. I remember pulling coach Miller aside and informing him that I wanted to play some running back. His response of ‘Great idea, not only are you small but you are also slow’ led me to believe it wasn’t gonna happen. But there I was, lined up in the backfield against Manteca High. Let’s be honest, I was just giving a breather to Jason Stock or Dan ‘Kool-Aid’ Younger. Besides the fact, we had Armando Avina under center, how much trouble could I get into?! Well trouble came in the form of Rick Asbell, or more to the point, his helmet. We met head up on an off-tackle power lead. SMACK! One would think my physical superiority would’ve won out. I was 5-foot-9, 155 pounds with a 40 yard dash time of 4.9. He ran about 6-3, 250. Do the math. The concussion I suffered that night blurs many of my high school football memories, but we won that night and ended up with a VOL title. We eventually made it to the section finals that year. It was a great team of even better guys – and having Avina didn’t hurt. As I recall our PA guy once saying, ‘and at the half, the score is Oakdale 7 – Armando Avina 28.’”
On the night of Sept. 12, during East Union’s home football game, the school will celebrate the 25th anniversary of that 1989 section final team. All players are asked to attend.
• RYAN TEICHEIRA, Sierra High, Class of 2001: “As my junior year at Sierra High was closing, summer football was about to begin. Having not played junior year because of shoulder surgery, I knew it was going to take a while to get first-team reps. Within the first week of practice I get called over by coach Greg Leland. I was thinking that I had already made a good impression and he probably wanted to give me the starting fullback nod. Nope. He wanted to make sure that I was OK with bringing up my freshman brother, Daniel. I was excited about the opportunity for him to play on varsity as a freshman – and let coach Leland know the same. But later that night it set in that I could possibly lose playing time to a freshman – my own brother, nonetheless! Daniel and I used to laugh with each other when we went to the 7-on-7 passing tournaments; it was a sibling competition to see who would get put in first. We were at Tokay’s big passing tournament, and it was nearing the end of the day. We started to head in and then we hear coach call out ‘Teicheira!” We looked at each other and then at coach Leland, not knowing which one he wanted. And then it happened, he called for Daniel. He shoved me aside on his way over to coach, laughing his butt off with a ‘little brother has arrived’ attitude only to be told, ‘Take this report of our last game’s score to the snack bar.’ Little brother found out the joke was on him. I shouted, ‘Bring me some nachos on your way back!’ We knew how to have a good time while playing the game we loved. As a team we gathered behind our freshman running back and made sure he was well protected. Little did we know, he could handle himself. That is where his legacy began. We finished the season 6-4, losing to St Mary’s, Oakdale, Sonora and Tracy, and finished third in the league. As you may notice, Manteca and East Union were not listed, because we were the first team in Sierra history to beat both local schools.”