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Rocking The Ridge: Introducing The Titans
Thunder Ridge High School in Idaho Falls hosted the first ever varsity home football game in school history last week.
Published: 9/5/2018 12:47:34 PM

Being a witness to history is a special feeling.

Think about it. How many times have you been able to witness, or be a part of, history?

Friday, August 31, will go down as a significant day in the history of Thunder Ridge High School, located on the eastern side of the Idaho Falls metro area. The history? The first ever home varsity football game played at the new school, which opened to grades 9-12 for classes earlier in the week.

For some, it was an opportunity to start fresh. For others, a long awaited dream of seeing students establishing a new tradition and being able to showcase their skills at a school that they had fought so hard for to be built. The new public comprehensive high school is the first to be built and opened in the Idaho Falls area since Hillcrest in 1992.

The day was sunny, yet windy, with very few clouds in the sky – about normal for this time of year in eastern Idaho. Fresh cut grass, newly painted lines, and an anticipation of what was forthcoming on the field that evening.

The Titans opponent, the two-time defending 4A state champion Skyline Grizzlies, would not be an easy test for Thunder Ridge, a team which featured only six seniors on their roster with a few more juniors and a host of sophomores. But the Titans weren’t going to let their youth and inexperience take them out of the game before it even began. Pre-game warmups featured an exuberance of a team that was about to embark on a new journey: excitement, hope, and promise. They knew the task at hand would be difficult with a new team, but nonetheless they were going to attack it.

As fans filed into Thunder Ridge Stadium, clad in royal blue, black, and white “Thunderwear” as the school has called their apparel, the Titans cheerleaders prepared their gear for the night’s activities while the band marched its way into the stadium from the south side, playing various tunes including the school’s new fight song.

The west stands, which stretch from goal line to goal line and seat the home team’s fans, weren’t at capacity in time for kickoff as a long line of people awaiting entry stretched out into Thunder Ridge’s parking lot. While the stands would not be full entirely for this contest, it shows that there will be room to grow as the school’s enrollment is anticipated to increase each year with more families moving into school boundaries.

The opening kickoff was returned by Skyline into Thunder Ridge territory right away. But the Titans didn’t buckle as they were able to force the Grizzlies into a turnover on downs at the 5-yard line. The Thunder Ridge defense came off the field fired up, slapping each other on their silver helmets, saying “Let’s go offense!” 

For the next seven minutes of game time, the Titans would move the chains and make play after play to march downfield. With every pass caught, the stands would erupt with applause. Passes that were nearly hauled in were met with anticipation, then slightly disappointed screams of “Ohhhhhh” from the crowd, who was eagerly awaiting a potential scoring play. You could sense that the crowd so badly wanted the kids on the field to succeed and to see them make progress in their journey as a new team. Even the coordinators on top of the press box were jumping up and down with every caught and dropped pass.

Neither team scored as the quarter ended in a 0-0 tie. It was the start that Thunder Ridge had hoped for. But as the second quarter got underway, Skyline found their edge and showed why they were the two-time defending state champions. Within that 12-minute window, the Grizzlies scored through the air, twice on the ground, and also on a punt return to open up a 27-0 lead at halftime.

The score didn’t seem to impact the fans in the stands, however. Almost everyone remained in their seats at halftime, enjoying a performance from the new Thunder Ridge dance team. The cheerleaders continued to cheer and the large student section stayed in place – in fact, the students remained at the stadium throughout the entire game.

Thunder Ridge principal Doug McLaren introduced himself to the crowd over the public address system at the stadium and welcomed a representative from a local car dealership to the field. The dealership was delivering a donated vehicle to the school, one which Thunder Ridge students could sell raffle tickets to win in order to raise money for the school. Once the presentation was completed, a helicopter flew in and picked up the dealerships representative on the field and then flew away, with cheers from both sets of fans at the stadium.

The second half continued much like the second quarter had for the Titans, who had spurts of brilliance but couldn’t string that brilliance together all at once. Skyline eventually pulled away for a 40-0 victory.

While the Titans wouldn’t get the win on that blustery Friday evening, every player for their team etched their names into the history books at Thunder Ridge as the first varsity squad to play at Thunder Ridge Stadium. All of the fans in attendance can say that they were the first to witness high school football at Thunder Ridge High. The cheerleaders, dance team, band, and students can all say the same.

It was a special feeling at Thunder Ridge on Friday, as if we were all part of something long anticipated. Many more of those feelings will follow as other sports and activities begin their inaugural seasons.  

A well-known saying applies to this event: “Tomorrow is a mystery. Yesterday is history. Today is a gift – that’s why we call it the present.”

Thunder Ridge students and fans ought to cherish the opportunity to be a part of history today and throughout the rest of the school year, as they embark on their year of ‘firsts’ – for every day, history is written… and they all get to be a part of it.


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