Football returns to Clear Spring

September 11, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

CLEAR SPRING - Before the Clear Spring varsity football team took the field Friday, junior Tyler Braithwaite put the meaning of the game into his own words.

"This town's been waiting a long time. I'm glad we could bring it to 'em," said Braithwaite, 16, the Blazers quarterback.

The last time a Clear Spring varsity football team played at home was in 1917, head coach John Wilson said before the game.


The Blazers fell to 0-2 on the season, losing 40-14 to Westmar on Friday night.

Most members of this year's team barely had a year of junior varsity play under their belts before their first varsity game last Friday, Wilson said, and even last year's junior varsity team was somewhat of a miracle, players and fans said Friday.

There had been "a lot of questions" over whether the school's soccer program would suffer, and whether football should even come to Clear Spring, said Brian Worthington, 15, who plays on the team.

But Friday night, a spectator wouldn't have known the difference by the turnout.

The players had crisp uniforms. So did the band. The game announcer's voice buzzed over the crowd. Cheers erupted, died, then erupted again with the mood of the game.

On the Blazers fans' side, family members and friends filled one section, while the band and students filled the other two. The rest stood. Even though the visiting team traveled from Allegany County, their fans showed up, too.

Lindsey Keyton, a 15-year-old junior at Clear Spring, said it was the biggest crowd she'd seen at her school.

"It's like a different vibe," Keyton said. "I've never had to stand at any kind of soccer game."

Keyton was standing with a group of about a dozen friends near the concession stand. They said school officials had been encouraging attendance all week, and they had seen plenty of graduates at the game, too.

"That's why it's so big," said Colson Pickett, a 15-year-old sophomore.

Pickett said having a game to go to on a Friday night was something new. Friday nights can be dull around Clear Spring, one of the few options being driving the 15 miles into Hagerstown and hanging out at the mall.

"The main reason I stayed after was to get a good seat," Pickett said. "That didn't even work out."

Even Westmar fans were glad to be there for the Blazers' home opener.

"It's probably good for Westmar," said Bob Kolberg, 45, who came from Allegany County to watch his son play. Any new competition is good for the sport, he said.

Sydney Shrader, 16, twirls with the school band and said football has added a new level of excitement for her and her band mates.

"We've been practicing since July for this. ... We weren't expecting that big of a crowd. We went out there and were so nervous. ... I think it's kind of a big deal," Shrader said after her halftime performance.

The game and everything surrounding it felt like the beginning of a good tradition, said senior defensive end Rodney Snyder, 17.

"It's just really cool knowing you started something," he said.

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