Emotions ran high Saturday at Hornet Stadium. The crowd stood on their feet, kids lined up and cheered at the top of their lungs on the other side of the green and gold inflated tunnel outside the football locker room. But all of this was not for the actual game. Saturday afternoon was the last time the 16 seniors ran out of the tunnel of Hornet Stadium.
Before the game, each of the seniors held a yellow rose and was introduced individually to present the rose to their families on the field to honor Senior Day.
“I just said a big “I love you,'” said linebacker Peter Buck. “It was just one of those things where you don’t have to say a word. You know what the feelings are – my mom is crying, I gave my brother a big high-five. My mom has been out to every game and always brings my younger brother. My dad has been a football coach and has definitely been a good father figure to me.”
Buck ended his last home game a 28-15 win over the Vikings. He also shined in front of the home crowd. Buck is now fifth in school history in tackles with 262 after recording a team high of 15 during the game.
This was the last time parents were able to able to see their sons play at the university, and wide receiver Brett Willis’ dad said he cherished every moment of his son’s time at Sacramento State.
“It’s very exciting. I’m a high school coach and I’ve been able to see him play tons of games, but this one is special,” said Danny Willis. “It’s been a good end to his college career. He’s been able to play a lot, have fun and end his career with a degree from Sac State.”
Brett Willis has 93 yards and a touchdown his senior season. But not every parent had the opportunity of seeing their son’s home games.
Defensive back Zach Schrader prepared for the game against Portland State University throughout the whole week knowing his parents were not going to be at midfield. His parents, who lived 753 miles away in Seattle, Wash., could never make it out to a home game – until Saturday.
“My parents came down and surprised me,” Schrader said. “I was really more shocked than anything. My parents have never been to game in Sacramento, so it meant a lot to me that my parents came down to see my final home game.”
He registered 10 tackles, moving him up to 71 for the season and was the only other Hornet besides Buck to reach 10 or more for the game.
The offense also proved to be successful. Quarterback Jeff Fleming threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receivers Chase Deadder and Morris Norrise combined for 187 yards and two touchdowns to lead the team to its last home win of the season.
But this game was more than just a game and stats to the parents. Joyce Reddic, mother of defensive back Jay Reddic, saw Senior Day as a reflection of her son’s career.
“I’m proud of him, I think (Senior Day) is a good thing. He enjoyed attending here,” Joyce Reddic said. “He’s met a lot of really cool people, he has a lot of friends and just the camaraderie of the team – they’re all really close.”
With two more games this season against Idaho State University and UC Davis, the team looks to improve its 5-4 overall record. Both games will be away and the 2010 season is close to being wrapped up.
The Causeway Classic at the end of the season has always proven to register close games. In the last three years, the rivalry game has been decided by 10 points or less. Buck said his favorite memory was sophomore year when the team beat UC Davis.
“I think early on in my career when we beat Davis my sophomore year was my big thing. It was kind of a change around here,” Buck said. “We were just coming up and they were a force to be reckoned with. I’ve definitely had a few individual highlights, but the team highlights are always going to outshine them.”
Like Buck, most of the seniors are wrapping up their last few semesters to graduate Sac State with a degree. As the their final season reaches its last two games, the seniors said goodbye to their final game at Hornet Stadium.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling. Of course I’d love to keep playing forever, but my time has come I guess in a weird way. But I don’t regret anything,” Buck said. “I know I’ve worked my hardest and done things the right way.”
Marshall Hampson can be reached at [email protected]