ESCONDIDO — For the first time in Escondido history, a high school football team advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state championship game.
The Orange Glen High School Patriots competed against the San Francisco Lincoln High School Mustangs in the Division 6-A championship game on Dec. 15 at the City College of San Francisco.
In a close match, the Patriots fell 24-13 to the Mustangs, who claimed their first state crown in program history after wrapping up an undefeated regular season.
The Patriots finished the year with a 10-4 record. Patriots Coach Jason Patterson credited his special teams unit, the defense’s grit and the offensive running game for keeping the entire game close against a team sans a blemish on its record.
Orange Glen aired the championship game in the school’s gymnasium, library and classrooms to over 500 students and community members.
For Patterson, who is also Orange Glen’s athletic director and physical education teacher, the trip to San Francisco meant far more than merely football.
Patterson said he wanted the trip to the city to be something his squad of student-athletes would remember for the rest of their lives and included a day out on the town visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and Pier 39.
Athletic boosters, community members and parental supporters all pitched in to help fund the trip, raising more than $10,000 for the team.
A large portion of the money was obtained through a crowdfunding campaign by Orange Glen parent Patti Thompson. The online fundraiser generated over $3,600 alone.
Thompson’s son, Theadore, is a junior offensive lineman for the Patriots. That crowdfunding effort to the cause alone.
“It was fun to see everybody help out,” Thompson said. “Everybody gave a little bit and a little bit from each person really makes a difference.”
Patterson said that without community fundraising efforts and logistical support, things would not have sailed as smoothly.
“Our district was extremely supportive in helping us get up to the state championship game,” Patterson said. “And our community really rose behind us.”
Due to the money raised, Patterson said that student-athletes received a “holistic experience” in San Francisco, allowing for a second bus full of students, which included the cheerleading squad, marching band and journalists.
Thompson, a lifelong Escondido resident who attended San Pasqual High School, said that the team’s efforts throughout the 2018 season uplifted the Escondido community.
And as the games proceeded and the wins piled on, Thompson noted, the bleachers became increasingly full underneath the bright Friday night lights which epitomize high school football.
“The kids are a riot — I mean, they cheer like crazy kids,” said Thompson, who said she made pulled pork sandwiches for every home game, which were sold at the concessions stand. “They’re nuts. They love it.”
Patterson said he believes the team’s ethos along with a collective spirit contributed to its success. It is a season, said Patterson, which will go down in the history books for the Escondido community.
“We tried to emphasize the discipline and focus” needed to win football games, said Patterson. “They were very unselfish. Players truly were playing for each other … It was definitely one of the most memorable seasons I have ever been a part of.”