Based on conversations I have had with Paradise football coaches I don’t see the any lingering affects from the 2009 Division I North Section title game. For those of you who are uninitiated, Enterprise captured the 2009 section title with an improbable and controversial 26-23 win on a cold night at Wraith Field.
Whether you agree with the call by the game officials or not, the result of that game had lasting affects.
First, Enterprise contends that their bus was vandalized when their basketball team came to the ridge several months later as a direct result of that football game. Second, Enterprise cancelled the season series in football with Paradise over concerns for the safety of their fans and players. Third, Paradise fans got a bad rap for being these out of control zealots who were sore losers. And, in conclusion, regardless of who you were pulling for that night, everyone lost.
Paradise lost some respect in the eyes of the peers in the North Section and Enterprise lost the glory that goes with winning a section title since there was such controversy at the end of the game.
I think it is unfair to use a broad brush to characterize the fans of Paradise as these maniacal fans who are sore losers and don’t give the 2009 Enterprise kids credit in that game. 99.9 percent of Bobcat fans congratulate the Hornets and thought they played an amazing game that night. The raucous minority was given too much publicity by the local media, myself included and that I believe helped taint the situation. I believe it was unwise of Enterprise to cancel the season series with Paradise. In some respects I think it was cowardly and dismissive. If Enterprise had safety concerns, those could have been ironed out, with a meeting of the minds at both schools. Instead the Hornets decided to stop playing the Bobcats, which I feel added fuel to fire.
Paradise football fans are the most loyal and rabid in the North State. A few bad apples characterized the Paradise fans as bad fans……which couldn’t be further from the truth. Paradise puts 3000 butts in the seats at every home game and travels better than any fan base, for any sport north of Sacramento. It’s truly “Hoosiers” re-visited.
Sadly the controversial ending to the game meant a tarnished title. Lets put a stop to that right now ! Paradise beat Enterprise 49-13 three weeks before the section title match-up. They held a two score lead late in the third quarter, yet couldn’t put the Hornets away. When they had the chance, they couldn’t get that extra first down, they couldn’t keep possession. When they finally had appeared to win the game, they didn’t stay on the field as required by the rules. We can debate whether the officials made the right call penalizing Paradise for illegal participation, after a blocked field goal had seemingly won the game for the Bobcats. We can debate whether the officials should have allowed Coach Trueblood from arguing his case for 20 minutes on the field until he got his way. These are all points of contention that split these schools in the most vociferous of fashions. What can not be debated is Enterprise’s mental toughness and Paradise’s inability to put the game away. And, lastly, the Bobcats inability to stop the Hornets on a 4th and 24 in the waning seconds……
So, Bobcat fans, its time to move on. Hell, you have won back-to-back section titles (2010, 2011) and have been the dominant program in Northern California for more than a decade. Give the Bobcats of 2009 their due….a great team, one of the best to ever suit up in the green and gold. But, you need to also give, as Coach Rick Prinz has, the Enterprise Hornets their due. An amazing performance, on hostile grounds to win a championship that no one thought they could win. It was a great game and its taken way too long for the remnants of that game to be extricated from the Bobcat conscience……Let tonight be the first step in moving on from that cold November night.