High school rivals battle in alumni football game

By Louis LaVenture,
Sports and Campus Editor

When I played football in high school I used to get really nervous before the games. More than 10 years later, as I padded up for the Tennyson High School versus Mount Eden High School alumni game on Sunday, I didn’t get those nervous feelings.

Even as I walked across the field late to warm ups and got called out by a player from Mt. Eden who said, “I want you 78!” referring to my jersey number, I still wasn’t nervous. I didn’t get nervous until my third play in the game at offensive tackle when I fell down on a block attempt and rolled my left ankle, which is now the size of a baseball.

For the rest of the game it was a challenge to push off the pain but I still managed to play most of the fourth quarter. It was just like high school, except older and more out of shape than I remembered it being. However, it was the togetherness that made the game fun. I got to play tackle football with my friends, fellow Lancers and even my first cousin, which is something I would have never had the chance to do before.

It’s funny, but when you go into battle with somebody on the football field, in pads, full contact, it creates a sense of trust and unity that no other sport can replicate. For people like myself, born and raised in Hayward, this game meant more than just a score. It was about a bond created between people who are connected through a school and have to trust each other in order to not just perform well, but stay safe too.

Let’s be honest here, most of the guys in this game haven’t played full contact football in pads since their high school days, most of which have an interesting story about the Monarch-Lancer rivalry they experienced.

For those of you not from Hayward, the Tennyson Mt. Eden rivalry is a big deal. Most of the students attend elementary and middle schools together before school district lines come into play and separate kids into Tennyson Lancers and Mt. Eden Monarchs for high school.

The first contest, sponsored by Alumni Football USA, was held on June 29, 2014 at Tennyson High School, where the Lancers prevailed 41-28. This set up the rematch between the two squads on Sunday which saw the Monarchs tie the series at 1-1 after pulling out a 20-18 victory over Tennyson.

The cool thing about the alumni game is it combines players from all years and gives a stark contradiction between the ages. The Lancers boasted a 42-year-old who played on the line offensively and defensively in addition to winning the award for the oldest player in the game. Mt. Eden wasn’t to be outdone on the age spectrum of things and they too had some elder statesmen, one of which was 39-years-old.

Despite being outnumbered drastically, Tennyson managed to keep the contest close and despite having three touchdowns called back, by referees who were treating it like an NFL game, still managed to have a chance to tie the contest on a failed two-point conversion with less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

The offensive Most Valuable Player for Tennyson was Joe Pangelina who reflected on his experience.

“Pain is temporary,” Pangelina said. “Going out like Spartans is legendary.””

It was a family affair for Pangelina, his youngest brother Stephan graduated a few years ago and played offensive line, defensive line and linebacker in the game. Another Pangelina brother, John, is a coach on the Tennyson football team and also coached defense in the alumni game for Tennyson.

The game had it all, big hits, long scoring plays, good tackling and in the end nobody was seriously hurt. The rivalry will continue in game three of the rivalry next spring in 2016.