Estacada community rallies around football team
In Jessie Leigh's song "Small Town Fight," the Estacada native sings about what supporting the high school football team means to the community.
"Defending that win means everything to this town," the song goes. "It's Friday night, it's what they knew. Home field and out of town, too, cheering them on was all that we could do."
Those who have been following the Estacada High School varsity football team's undefeated season this year say the lyrics ring true to life.
"It's exactly like that song," said Lane Jensen, an Estacada High School graduate who does radio broadcasts for Ranger athletics. "The stands fill up really quickly, and the whole town comes to support the team. Everyone is going to come out. It's been like that the whole season."
"If you read a book about what Friday night small town football is, this is it to a tee," said Head Coach Andy Mott. "It's a really cool feeling to head over from our locker rooms an hour before the game and see that there are already lines of people outside of the field."
While Estacada's football games have always drawn many spectators, Estacada High School Booster Club president Trixie Hall estimated that this season's crowds have doubled in size.
"With no season last year (because of the COVID-19 pandemic), it's a great time to come back. It amps up their confidence and hope," she said. "People need something to look forward to (after the pandemic and last fall's wildfires). It gives people some hope. That's needed right now."
Jensen thinks the support for the team is palpable while they're on the field.
"I know the team can really feel it. When a big play happens and the crowd erupts, it energizes them on the field," Jensen said. "The kids know that the whole town is there to back them up."
"It feels like the community has supported us more than ever this year," Mott added.
The support for the Rangers isn't limited to just home games. Many fans will travel to the team's away games, as well.
"It's really cool when the community travels to support us," Mott said.
Jensen said the support for the team can be felt no matter where the game is being played.
"As long as we've got our fan base, it will feel like home. People will travel, and people will support the team," he said.
Earlier this month, the team's quarter-final playoff game against La Grande High School was initially scheduled for Estacada's Buzz Randall Stadium. However, it was later deemed unplayable by the OSAA, and the game was moved to Sandy High School.
"As soon as we realized our people were there, it was like we were home," Mott said. "We packed their stands. It was full of our fans."
The Rangers beat La Grande 44-22. Next up for the team is a semi-final game against Marist Catholic High School on Saturday, Nov. 20, in McMinnville. Estacada will coordinate a bus for students who wish to attend the game.
Mott said a championship win would mean a lot not just for the team, but also the Estacada community. The last time the football team played a championship game was in 1953, when they lost to Crook County 31-14 at the old Multnomah Stadium in Portland.
"It would be huge. We've worked extra hard, and with all of the love our community has given us it would mean a ton. It really is an entire community effort. People feel like they're a part of this," Mott said.
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