By AISHEE DAS
An unspecified number of football Game of the Week (GOW) posters out of the approximately 60 put up throughout the school were torn down some time between sixth period and 9 PM on Wednesday, November 4. The football GOW on Friday, November 6 between UHS and Woodbridge High School (WHS) determines which school wins the Fence Post Trophy, causing tensions to rise between students from each school.
Administration and campus security were not able to confirm the identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators. According to Mr. Matthew Pate (Asst. Principal), there are security cameras on campus and the footage is currently being reviewed.
While there is no confirmation on who tore down the posters, there are suspicions that students from WHS were responsible.
Christa Pehrson (Sr.) said that she witnessed around 6 or 7 people wearing Woodbridge Warrior shirts and pants attempting to pull down the large laminated football banner, which lists the team’s games, in front of the library.
“They were running up to it and trying to pull it down, but they couldn’t pull it down, so then they just gave up,” Pehrson said. “After rehearsal, I saw all the [paper GOW] posters ripped down.”
WHS regularly hosts sports practices at UHS’s stadium and gym, so WHS students were present on campus the night of the incident.
The posters were created by the UHS Associated Student Body (ASB). Since the incident, some posters have been salvaged to re-form the poster wall. ASB also created new posters to make up for the destroyed posters.
The vandalism follows several days of rising tensions between students from both schools, primarily expressed through social media.
Mr. Kevin McCaffrey (Physical Education Dept.) stated the Athletics Department was aware of the situation and that increased security and more police officers would be present at and after the game in response.
He also said that the football coaches spoke with all the players, reminding them that while school spirit and friendly rivalry were good, the players needed to “stay classy.”
Dr. Kevin Astor (Principal) said, “I want to bring it back into perspective that this is a football game, and we want the attention to be on the hard work and skill displayed by our Uni Trojans, as well as the Woodbridge players. I hope people keep that in mind.”
WHS ASB President Colette Cosyn-Kang expressed her apologies. “Woodbridge ASB sincerely apologizes for the behavior of some Woodbridge students online and on Uni’s campus,” Cosyn-Kang said. “We are as disappointed as Uni is, but hope that the opinions and actions of a few do not represent those of the majority at Woodbridge who believe in respect and sportsmanship.”
UHS ASB President Erik Mumm (Sr.) echoed Cosyn-Kang’s sentiments. “However disappointed I am with the poster problem, I understand that these actions do not represent the Woodbridge student body in full, and I am looking forward to a fun, spirited game on Friday!” Mumm said.
The WHS football captain also conveyed his disappointment. “I’m glad that people are getting so hyped up for a football game,” said Kian Heiat. “I think there has been an absence of that in Irvine. But I hate how some people are using this as a medium to just insult one another through social media. And regarding the posters: that was an awful thing. I know the struggle of making a putting up posters, and for kids to degrade another’s hard work makes me sick.”
UHS’s football captain expressed similar thoughts. “I know a lot of people in ASB work hard to make those posters,and it was really sweet to see them up over the school,” said Neil Boudreau (Sr.). “Like Kian said, it’s awesome to have a lot of hype going into the game. Woodbridge has always been our rival and Friday’s game should be a good one. I know our guys are really excited about it.”