PARADISE, Calif. — The Paradise Bobcats didn’t even have a field when they started looking toward the first game of high school football. What was once three healthy teams at the school has been reduced to Junior Varsity and Varsity teams.
They lost their Freshman team, and their varsity team, in particular, dropped from 50 students to 35.
“Yeah, we’ve become smaller, but we’re just stronger,” said Annie Stearns, Paradise High School’s athletic director.
It’s been a long road for the Bobcats and Paradise High School. They started working toward the team's first game right after graduation.
“We had no grass. It was just dirt. When we first started, we didn’t even have a football,” said Stearns.
It was reconstruction of all the basic elements of a game from the field and the ball to the teams they needed to play against. Initially, no one wanted to take a challenge from the Bobcats.
Underarmour actually gave the school $5,000 to offer to any school that would take them on for the opening game. Williams High School took up that offer and, after that, their first game of the year was set.
“To be here today with green grass and be on our field is absolutely amazing,” Stearns said.
Regardless of the game’s outcome against Williams, Stearns says there’s only one thing that matters, and it is the fact that they’ve brought the Paradise community together for the night.