Just when you think you’ve seen it all in questionable fan behavior, you find out you haven’t.
I grew up in southeast Ohio, a block from a football stadium. And since I am an older person, 58, I’ve been a witness to some pretty rude instances of over-the-line fan action.
Last Friday night at Shelby, Fostoria High’s football squad was warming up in its end zone, where behind the goal post and a chain link fence about 25 to 30 young people, apparently Shelby students, were baiting and taunting the Redmen.
The two groups were only that chain link fence’s thickness apart. And I walked over to listen to what was happening. The weird thing was the kids had all these white outfits on. Some were wearing bathrobes and others wore those white suits that are used when disposing of toxic stuff, like a coverall. It was strange because there were a lot of kids. There was a small section of seating there, too. So apparently that’s where they spent the game.
You see things like that at times, but this felt kind of different. I heard things like, “Go ahead, hit me with that helmet, I want you to!” It was obvious the kids in the white stuff wanted to provoke the FHS players into an incident. They were just too close for comfort.
But the FHS kids held their composure while assistant coaches Clayton Moore and George Tucker were in the vicinity, keeping a good eye on things. I felt that it put those guys in an odd position because I’m sure it’s not every road game where they’ve had to be in that kind of situation instead of just coaching their guys.
Then when the Redmen finished up and started off the field through the corner of the end zone to go back to the locker room for a pregame talk, some of the agitators hustled over to that area to run their mouths at the team some more.
It was just a nasty little scene. Those guys were trying to get inside the Redmen’s heads. People will do that, but these guys apparently wanted to start something to which a policeman — standing about 20 yards away — would have to respond.
There were lots of adults passing by and some tailgaters nearby, outside the fence. If one of the FHS kids would have responded to a taunt in the wrong way, a mini-riot might have broken out. But those FHS kids kept their composure a lot better than most adults would.
And assistant coach Mike Daring put it best to his players, reminding them ”we do our talking on the field.”
Near the end of the game, the Redmen’s Jon Ramirez interecepted a pass at the Fostoria 37 yard line and cut away from two would-be tacklers and was almost at the goal line when he stumbled down at the Shelby 6. A guy in the press box said, “Oh, that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Too too bad.”
But “upon further review,” you may look at it as Jon Ramirez’s finest hour. You see, the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Ramirez plays on defense as a nose tackle and on offense as a fullback. So, you know he’s going to be beat at the end of the game. Ramirez had spent the whole game trying to put the stop on star Shelby fullback Kyle Bailey. That’s kind of a lonely place in there, as the Redmen defense played its inside linebackers off the ball quite a bit and the tackles were wide, too.
Bailey ended up with 61 yards on 14 carries, so it was obvious that Ramirez did his job clogging the middle. He also came up with a pair of tackles for loss.
So at the end of the game, when Ramirez fell down on the 6 yard line, he turned to his back and spread his arms out in total exhaustion. He didn’t score because he had given all he had to give. But that was enough to win.
The more you see Ramirez play, the more you realize he is one of the keystones to the FHS team. He is what used to be called a hard-nosed football player.