Who let the dogs out? King’s Fork did!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The downside to Friday night was that King’s Fork lost its inaugural home game, 72-0. Not that that was a big deal; they were playing Western Branch, which, well, doesn’t lose Southeastern District regular season football games.

The upsides were that hundreds came to see their kids and friends tear up Suffolk’s newest field.

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That the Bulldogs never let anyone turn them into puppies; even after shutout losses to Norview and Hickory, they were still ready to take on the best the area has to offer.

That even when the Bruins scored a few (OK, six) touchdowns in the first half, the boys in red and their women in red and white came back out of the tunnel the same way they’d started; to prove that these Bulldogs’ bite were worse than their barks.

&uot;Come on, fellows!&uot; coach Cecil Phillips shouts to his squad, huddled in a makeshift mosh pit before the game. &uot;Have fun, play hard, take ’em down tonight! Have fun!&uot;

On the Bruins’ first play from scrimmage, Devin Fentress charges 48 yards for a touchdown. Two seconds later, the Bulldog cheerers have the crowd in a frenzy.

&uot;Go, go, go go!&uot; they roar. &uot;When you get in, stomp ’em good! Let me see you stomp ’em!&uot; An impromptu gymnastics routine of flips and cartwheels breaks out, and the crowd goes nuts.

On the sideline, James Towns, at six feet and 300 pounds one of the biggest dogs in the fight, glances over at his teammate, Shane Dixon, who suffered a broken leg at Hickory on the second play of his varsity career last week at Hickory.

&uot;Win or lose, this is for him,&uot; Towns says. &uot;We’re going to play our best and hope for the best.&uot;

Not content to stay on the bench, Dixon scoops up his crutches and hobbles over to stand with his teammates.

&uot;I’m going to smash some heads!&uot; he vows. &uot;I’m coming back for sure, and there’s going to be a whole lot of terror for other teams!&uot;

Meanwhile, Sha’ka Miller, who triples as the Dogs’ kick returner, running back and linebacker, takes the snap and plunges forward up the middle. Three yards later, he drops the ball. Not losing a step, he leans over, lets it bounce back into his hands, and barrels forward, practically riding a lineman for the next five yards.

When he finally falls, he’s got King’s Fork’s first first down on the contest, and again the audience kicks it into gear, thunderously stomping through the stands.

By halftime, the Dogs are back, 42-0. And fullback Travis Francisco can’t wait to get back out on the field.

&uot;I just love football!&uot; says one of the team’s two seniors. &uot;All these boys try hard and give it all they got!&uot;

As the halftime show begins, drum major Cordero Leonard leads his band of band members to midfield.

&uot;It’s good to be in the first class of the school,&uot; he says, gazing at his boys and girls in T-shirts and jeans (uniforms haven’t arrived yet). &uot;We’re proud to represent King’s Fork High School and its football team. We get to set the foundation for bands and teams of the future.&uot;

Some members of those future teams were in the crowd; the Downtown Athletic Association Pop Warner football team brought some of its young members and cheerers to check out the history-making contest.

&uot;I think King’s Fork is a good team,&uot; says Devon Booker, 10, a student at Oakland Elementary School and member of the DAA Junior Pee-Wee team. &uot;I have to get my wind up and practice harder to play for them. I think they could teach me something.&uot;

While some of her teammates fly into the air and back down into the arms of their waiting ladies, cheerleading captain Brittany Tischer backflips down the track.

&uot;We don’t let anything get us down,&uot; she says. &uot;It’s all worth it. We’ll make it through everything. It’s not about this game; it’s about our spirit.&uot;

Yeah, it may be a while before King’s Fork comes up on the high side of the scoreboard. But don’t ever call them losers.