The smile on the face of 1981 Arroyo Grande High School graduate Mike Wolfe told the story.
On Friday, he got to see his alma mater win its first CIF-Southern Section Western Division championship game in 13 years.
Wolfe, who now lives in Nipomo, has always loved watching football and has coached youth football locally.“It’s just a great feeling to be here, seeing how this brings the community together, being with family and friends,” Wolfe said.
Fans such as Wolfe, dressed in layers of clothes, many wearing gloves, mostly stood in the stands and on the track on a chilly, full- moon night.
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The blue-and-gold faithful chanted “Let’s go Eagles” on their way to a 42-14 victory over Culver City High School.
An estimated 5,500 people attended the big game to watch Arroyo Grande get over a hurdle that it couldn’t in last year’s final against Serra High School in Gardena.
“I’m really proud of this group,” said Kayla O’Keefe, a 16-year-old Arroyo Grande High junior. “We went down to the game last year (at Serra). We were cheering for them and we were proud even though they didn’t win. We came tonight hoping for a victory.”
Parent Josh Alton said the team worked extremely hard this season to get to its victory Friday, which began with intense June workouts that continued into the season.
His son, tight end Grant Alton, is one of a few sophomores on the team.
“I just heard he recovered a fumble in the end zone,” Josh Alton said on the sidelines after his son’s touchdown, the Eagles’ first of the night.
Tom Butler, the school’s principal, said the team has strong leadership and character, which pleases him and sets a good example for the rest of the students.
“There are a lot of good young men on this team,” Butler said. “Their enthusiasm for what they’re doing has spread throughout campus.”
Before the game, Robin Ventura, a former major league baseball player and the new manager of the Chicago White Sox, stood over barbecue chicken by the grill and expressed his congratulations on the team’s run. Ventura lives in Arroyo Grande with his family.
“A CIF game like this doesn’t come along every year, and it’s nice to see all the kids show up here to support it, not only from Arroyo Grande but from San Luis, Mission and Righetti high schools,” Ventura said. “I’ve watched a lot of these kids on the team grow up. It’s great to be a part of this.”