Organizers hope to raise more than $20,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation with annual alumni football game

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Sophia Giammanco and David Cote each have cystic fibrosis. Giammanco, now 6 years old, was the impetus for the event. Cote played in last year's game and was a lead organizer of the game this year. While it was uncertain whether or not there would be a rematch following the original Battle for the Bridge, an alumni football game between West Linn and Oregon City that raised nearly $20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, once that game took place, there was virtually no doubt that there would be a third.

After Oregon City's alumni team won the inaugural game fairly decisively, West Linn stole the rematch last year at Oregon City High School, marching 94 yards in the final minutes of regulation and converting a two-point conversion to force overtime, then getting another two-point conversion to clinch victory in the extra period.

Now, Saturday's game at West Linn is the rubber match, and that's good news for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“Last year's game really forced this one. It's important to these guys. They want to be the first team to win on their home turf,” organizer Dave Cote said.

The game has raised around $20,000 both years and organizers hope to eclipse that number this year. They are nearly halfway to that mark already just in sponsorships.

This year, Cote took on much of the planning responsibilities. Cote played in last year's game and has cystic fibrosis.

His mother had heard about the original game on the radio and told him about it. Cote, who was living in Los Angeles at the time, got in touch with Ian Giammanco, one of the original organizers of the game whose daughter, Sophia, has cystic fibrosis and was the impetus of the fundraiser.

Cote went to school with Giammanco's younger sister and he was interested in helping with the game and participating in it.

“We've been good friends ever since, and Sophia's just like a little sister to me. All of this research that's being done right now isn't for me, it's about these kids who can live a better life,” Cote said.

This year, Cote took on a larger role with organizing the event, getting help from Steve Scott at Oregon City and a boost from West Linn High School, which provided the facilities for free.

The interest in the game has remained high. More than 40 West Linn alumni have regularly shown up for practices and a late boost in entrants is expected.

The alumni range from the class of 1985 all the way up to recent graduates.

While the ultimate goal is to raise as much for charity as possible, the tone of this year's game has been intense with each squad sitting on a win apiece on the opposition's home turf.

“There's probably been a little more trash talking this year,” Cote said.

Players have watched a tape of last year's game and are heavily motivated to take home bragging rights.

Track coach and assistant football coach Joe Cerny has been helping out with the alumni squad's practices while assistant coach and former WLHS and Portland State University standout Neil Zellick is acting as the offensive coordinator and starting quarterback for the Lions.

The game will once again feature current and alumni cheerleaders at halftime. Last year that group reached nearly 80 members.

While two of the main parking lots at West Linn are still under reconstruction and won't be ready by the time of the game on Saturday, Cote hopes that it won't dissuade anyone from attending. The lot behind the baseball field will be open and there will be continuous shuttles all evening between the high school and Hammerle Park and Willamette Christian Church.

Tickets for the game can be purchased in advanced online at for $8 or for $10 at the gate on the day of the game. T-shirts are also available online and at the game and anyone interested in simply donating to the Cystic Fibrosis Fund can do so through the website as well.

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