(With more than 55 years as an athlete, coach, official, parent and spectator, I’ve gained some insights and perspectives regarding athletics. In this weekly column, I share what I’ve learned about sports from these multiple points of view.)
It’s been 15 years since we last heard the clatter of football cleats on the sidewalk leading down to the old Hans Petersen Memorial Field on Quince Street, where the shell of the old bleachers still overlooks the grassy field.
From the stands, fans caught glimpses of the players hidden from view by trees and shrubs as they made their way down the sidewalk — but you could hear them approach, the home crowd preparing to roar its support as it waited for the Vikings to appear at the gate.
That night in 2001 was just one of many league games played by the Vikings, with the title on the line. Siuslaw’s opponents were its rivals from the south (We know who they were...)
It is the last league game of the season, and without a victory it will be the last Siuslaw varsity football game played on the historic 50-year-old field.
Lining up opposite the home crowd, the Vikings were ready. As players removed their helmets, “America the Beautiful” began echoing from the stands.
Whenever Siuslaw played the Reedsport Braves, the pep band avoided the National Anthem — denying Reedsport fans the opportunity to sing “Home of the Braves!” and claim the field as theirs.
It is the Vikings’ field, after all.
It turned out to be a close game. Just prior to half, the Vikings called a fake punt, with the ball being caught and returned for a touchdown to end the half.
The Vikings used the momentum, along with a stout second-half defense, to win.
It becomes coach Tim Dodson’s first league title — with more to follow.
To earn it against the team from the south makes it even sweeter.
In the state playoffs, a last-second desperation pass by Marist eventually sealed a victory over Siuslaw on that same field.
Though the Vikings lost the final game on the old Hans Petersen Field, it didn’t tarnish the victories achieved by five decades of past Vikings teams.
Many fans still miss the closeness of the stands.
They miss walking the sidelines behind the team following the ball.
But sometimes in the quiet of the night, you can still hear the clattering of football cleats on the sidewalk leading to the field of old.