Rifle football has solid fan support
RIFLE – They might not sitting in the bleachers, but that doesn’t mean there’s a been a decline of fan interest in Rifle football.Rather, it’s the design of Bears Stadium, which lends itself to allowing supporters to find cushier – and warmer methods to watch the game.”I know for a fact the way our stadium sits, it’s like a drive-in movie theater. It’s part of the allure of our stadium,” said Bears head coach Damon Wells.
Taking advantage of a natural incline in that area of the high school’s campus, architects positioned the home bleachers so fans can look down on the action, instead of building upwards. Part of that natural slope also allows fans to park their cars close enough to the field to watch the game unimpeded.It’s a position many Bears supporters prefer, including members of the coaching staff’s families.Those cars are jam-packed (with fans),” said Wells. “I know there’s a lot of people up there – It’s kind of neat. So, I don’t think you can judge the support, or lack thereof by the number of people sitting in the bleachers.”
Even considering drive-in viewing, student attendance throughout the season does waiver. But not due to apathy, Wells cautioned. Instead, it’s because the students are involved in other school-related activity or events.”We’re not a school that has 2,000 kids. For example, all of our band kids on Friday are going to be traveling to their own event. There’s a lot going on here and a lot of our kids are involved. I don’t know if you can base student interest on how many kids attend a football game because that can fluctuate greatly, depending on the number of events going on a given night.”One thing that’s sure is Saturday’s football game with Elizabeth has been the week’s hot topic among the RHS student body.
“I’ve heard about (Saturday’s game) all through the halls,” said assistant football coach Alfonso Alfini. “In class, the students ask each other if they are going to the game, and how much tickets cost. So I think they are very interested.”Wendy McFarlin, the mother of Bears’ starting running back Colby McFarlin, hasn’t seen a dip in attendance. But she admits that fewer adults outside of the player’s families attend regular season contests than in the past.”What I do see is the same faces every week,” she said. “People in the community have gotten used to Rifle’s being in the playoffs. They’re not as interested in the hype as they used to be. It’s not fair. The team deserves support during the regular season because it’s the coaching and the kids giving there all that gets them (to the playoffs).””There is a lot of talk about football (in the community),” Alfini said. “It’s a two-way sword. When you’ve been (in the playoffs) so many times (as Rifle has) there’s an expectation, even though its a huge deal to make it to any kind of post-season play. It’s expected here. Fortunately, we’ve had many in the last 10 years. It’s still a big deal, but it’s not talked about as much.”
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.