"The administration's been great. They've given me everything I've wanted. They just can't give me what I need; more players, community support, they don't have that power. … It's the weirdest thing I've been through as a coach. Where's the passion?"
Glendale High football coach
If a football game is played at Moyse Field and no one is around to watch it, does it make a sound?
It's a provocative quandary, considering it's happened all too often over the course of way too many past fall seasons.
A week ago, the latest chapter in the hopeful stimulation of the Glendale and Hoover High football programs took place on a clear, Thursday evening at Glendale High.
Nine weeks ahead of all the pomp and circumstance, balloons and ballyhoo, homecoming and hoopla, the Nitros and Tornadoes began their let's-play-two venture with nothing more at stake than … well, let's get to that later.
But, much like the whole idea of the Tornadoes and Nitros locking helmets twice a year, the success of the game after all was said and done differs depending on who you talk to.
The Glendale stands — those of the visitors on Thursday — were likely 75-80% full, while the Hoover faithful's support was still rather lacking. Was it more than that of one of the team's average nonleague affairs or even Pacific League tussles? Sure. But it was far from what an average Southern California football program would draw for an average game, much less against its archrival and much less for a contest with such a novel concept and note of history.
Alas, in telling the tale of the first-ever, first-week, Glendale-Hoover football game, it's likely one should grade on a curve or, perhaps, take into careful consideration the struggling status of both programs. If nothing more, this game was two coaches taking a shot at trying something new to revive programs long ago lost in a losing culture.
In the wake of another combined 2-18 season for the Hoover and Glendale football teams, Nitros frontman Alan Eberhart and then-Hoover jefe Chris Long got together and came up with the idea — intriguing to some, controversial and perplexing to others — to not only conclude their seasons with the annual "Battle for the Victory Bell" rivalry clash, but begin their seasons with a rivalry game, as well.
For many a football program, playing any league opponent twice in a season would be folly, stupid and pointless. But in the cases of the Tornadoes and Nitros, only winning will breed more winning and the teams are continually their most competitive opposition. Not to mention, with both programs long struggling to hit the .500 mark and both representing schools in communities that have anything but football fever, the annual Glendale-Hoover showdown — no matter the fact that the implications are rarely anything more than school pride and a trophy bell — is the only game for the teams that traditionally puts fans in the home stands.
Leading into the 2011 season and the inaugural rivalry opener, Eberhart — a football coach's football coach who never hesitates to speak his mind — had no reservations about just how monumental the game potentially was.
"The biggest, telling sign of the future of this program, and I think Hoover's, is this first football game," Eberhart said. "It's right here [at Moyse Field], no reason not to come. Are they gonna come out and support the kids? I'm curious."
They came out. Sorta. It was far better than a normal crowd for a normal Glendale or Hoover game. But it certainly wasn't as big as the big one that ends the season.
Fact is, 30 minutes before kickoff there were parking spaces aplenty in the school's main parking lot. The next night when Crescenta Valley hosted Santa Paula, there wasn't a spot to be had in said parking lot. Then again, the Falcons' Friday night opener wasn't all that much more crowded. If anything, it's simply a clue as to who was in the stands.
For the most part, it was students for the Glendale-Hoover game. Some walk, some may even stick around after school and most pile into their friends' cars and carpool.
But for the CV-Santa Paula game, one could surmise that a parking lot fills up a lot quicker when parents are driving themselves.
Therein lies just one of the many problems that Eberhart, first-year Hoover Coach Andrew Policky and everyone hoping and struggling to improve the Glendale and Hoover football programs has to deal with.
There's little parental support just as there is little overall fan support.