Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tiger Ghost of the Past

My parents, who live in central Florida, came to Marshfield this weekend for my mother’s 55th MHS class reunion so I drove up to see them. While I was there, I went to the Homecoming game on Friday.

I had not gone to a Marshfield High School football game in 30 years. I have some impressions of Homecoming. Marshfield is ablaze in fall colors. Trees near one end zone still drop leaves into Beall Stadium. Closing off the area under the stadium and a permanent concession stand were overdue.

First, there is no longer a Homecoming parade. Because I knew this, I left Madison for Marshfeld about noon. Second, the opponent was not from the Wisconsin Valley Conference. It was Medford, which I suppose was scheduled to guarantee an easy win for Homecoming. It is too bad the Red Raiders had not been informed of this arrangement.

Marshfield had superior athletes to Medford at almost every position. After spotting Medford to a 6-0 lead (Medford must not have a reliable kicker because they always went for a two-point conversion), the Tigers ripped off first down after first down as the huge Marshfield line opened running lanes en route to their only lead of the night, 7-6. The Tigers gave the ball away seven times on five interceptions, one of which was run back 88 yards for a touchdown, and two fumbles. The Tigers gained only 36 yards and one first down in the second half. Medford did not have as many skilled athletes as Marshfield but they did enough to win 26-7.

It reminded me of how unpredictable the Tigers were when I was a student and my friends were players. The Tigers were usually .500. The 2007 Tigers are 4-3 now and will probably miss the WIAA playoffs. It is a reminder that football is called “play,” that players are students and that they are fine young men who will benefit from discipline and teamwork throughout their lives regardless of the outcome.

Third, I was amazed that there did not seem to be Marshfield cheerleaders. I sat on the visiting side so admittedly my vantage point was not the best. Medford had no cheerleaders.

Fourth, I was surprised by the Marshfield High School band. The current drum major is a tremendous showman but the band members are not good marchers; some walk on their heels. Good bands walk on their toes. Admittedly, I am spoiled by living in Madison because the University of Wisconsin band is so good and high school bands here have former and current drum and bugle corps members.

The band left the field with more than five minutes left in half time. They did not play Marshfield’s alma mater nor did they play Medford’s school song. (Medford fans sang their own fight song a capella.) The drummers stayed on the field to play a cadence as the band left but the band did not march out to the waiting busses; they walked out.

Don’t get me wrong: I am glad I went to see my parents. I am glad I went to the game, especially because admission is still only $3, but it might be 30 years before I go again.

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