The ceremony was less than 15 minutes Saturday evening, but for those that participated the chance to see old friends and acknowledge a tradition that has lasted more than four decades could not be measured by time.
Before the home team played the Huron Aggies, Los Banos Tigers Youth Football and Cheer honored the 1971-‘72 team that started the organization.
Though not everyone who was on the team 42 years ago was present at Loftin Stadium, those that were in attendence received an outpouring of appreciation from modern-day players and parents.
Members of the 1971 team, cheerleaders, coaches and parents of players included, were escorted onto the field through an inflatable Tigers helmet, given replica jerseys bearing their player number and introduced to a crowd that greeted them with appreciative applause.
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DJ Barcellos, organizer of the reunion and Los Banos Tigers Youth Football treasurer, said that the idea for the event presented itself and she wanted to do it as soon as possible.
“When it falls in your lap you have to take that opportunity and run with it,” Barcellos said.
“That was a big thing for this town,” said Roy Torres, who played on the inaugural team. “We grew up a lot that year. It took kids and made men out of them,”
Ray DeSa, Torres former teammate, said he’s proud he’s part of the team’s legacy.
“It is kind of nice, most of us haven’t thought about it for a long time,” he said.
Since the program began 5,000 children have participated and 25 division titles and 15 championships have been won.
Rick Howard said it was nice that he and his son Bryce, who is now playing left tackle at Menlo College, were both able to go through the program. He said his son would often come home and discuss the coach. The elder Howard said he would impart advice based on his experience playing on the team.
“It was nice that we could have the same coach,” Howard said.
Members of the 1971 team said even though many of them live and work in Los Banos they don’t have many opportunities to get together as a group. They said they enjoyed being around one another again and having the chance to catch up on what’s occuring in their teammates’ lives.