November 8, 2005 > The Warriors: a historic moment
The Warriors: a historic moment
by Praveena Raman and Venkat Raman
One side of the spectator stands at Tak Fudenna Stadium was filled with students, parents, family and friends chatting merrily away and eating hot dogs and nachos. The air was nippy but filled with excitement. The opposite side of the stands was, in contrast, sparsely populated. Players from Mission San Jose High School and Newark Memorial High School were warming up on the field with their coaches.
Watching this scenario, one could be forgiven thinking that the sparsely populated side must be the Mission San Jose Warriors who have had a long dry spell in football successes. In fact, the packed side was filled with Mission family, friends and well-wishers who had come to celebrate the homecoming game and encourage their players, even though the team had not won a single homecoming game since 1993. Adding to the excitement was that opposing coaches - Newark's Coach Van Deusen and Mission's Coach Swift - had played football together for the Warriors 38 years ago.
The evening started promptly at 7:30 p.m. as 12-year-old Melanie Alameda sang the National Anthem. With a cheering crowd, the game started in earnest; Newark Cougars won the toss and the Warriors on the receiving end. The teams proved well matched; the question of who would win the game remained open until the end. A perfect seesaw battle with an alternating series of touchdowns highlighted the evening. Newark scored first, up 6-0. However, they missed the point after the touchdown. Mission quickly answered following a 73-yard kickoff return that put the ball on Newark's 10 yard line. They converted the point after and led 7-6.
In an attempt to overcome this deficit, Newark failed at two-point conversions following subsequent touchdowns. While they led 12-7 at half time, Newark saw the lead shrink to four points in the fourth quarter at 18-14, and then evaporate altogether when Mission scored their third touchdown and went up 20-18. Mission missed the extra point on their third touchdown, setting the stage for Newark to attempt a 29-yard field goal with 58 seconds left in the game. As the stadium of spectators held their breath, Newark's only field goal attempt of the evening hit the left upright and sailed wide, allowing Mission to run the clock down and chalk a win. Considering that an earlier Mission extra point converted by hitting an upright and falling in for the score, there was a feeling that it was simply meant to be a Mission evening.
This victory is a significant accomplishment for Mission since they have not won a homecoming game since 1993. This also broke a 14-game losing streak in Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL) games. Earlier in the season, an 18-game losing streak was broken by a win over Albany. At the end of the homecoming game, Mission's record was 3-3 with a1-1 record in MVAL play.
"Both the teams competed hard tonight," said Newark coach Rich Swift. "Tonight's the first time Mission has beaten us in a while. Hats off to them! They did a nice job." Mission's win over Newark was their first since 1998. Mission coach Robin Van Deusen was all praises for Newark. "I have watched Coach Swift's team for years, and they are always great." he said, "Tonight's win was a hard fought one." Van Deusen added, "Everyone played great tonight. Whenever I called a play, the players executed it as it was called. Every player really stepped up and performed." Van Deusen greatly appreciates the opportunity to be able to coach son Joey who played quarterback and is the captain of the team. Joey Van Deusen, a junior at Mission, played an awesome game with great passes that went to completion and two touchdowns. Another strong player Marcus Hyer, showed his mettle in driving the team towards a win.
During half-time, the homecoming parade took place with Warrior's star player Tunde Adedipe awarded the honor of Homecoming King while Alexis Nelson, daughter of Captain Robert Nelson of the Fremont police Department and granddaughter of Fremont's past mayor Gene Rhodes, had the honor of being Homecoming Queen.
"It was wonderful," said Alex Ellebracht, Warrior's defensive end. "We wanted to win for our pride, our team and our school. We had something to prove. This game had the best attendance in the season and it is awesome when 500 people are cheering for you. Everyone will look at this game differently from now on."
It is noteworthy that Mission was unable to field a varsity football team just three seasons ago. They have come a long way since then.