HILLSBORO — Close to 250 miles separate the Weston-McEwen High School in Athena and the turf inside Hillsboro Stadium, the site of the TigerScots semifinal playoff contest on Saturday. That distance didn’t stop what looked like half of the town’s 1,100 residents from making the trek to watch the school’s playoff game.
“A lot of people don’t even have any kids on the team but they still come to the games,” said Julie Peterson, mother of TigerScot running back Tyler Peterson. A woolen scarf with the Weston-McEwen colors matched her exaggeratedly long two-toned fake eyelashes.
That fan support — the kind represented by Julie’s outfit — goes double for the road games, her husband Lorne said.
The Petersons were just two red-and-black draped fans in the red sea of Weston-McEwen supporters at Hillsboro on Saturday. The stadium’s metal bleachers were filled with an equal number of TigerScot cheerers as Scio fans at kickoff, despite Scio’s much shorter trip.
Head football coach Kenzie Hansell said he’d like to say he’s surprised by the lengths the Athena-area football fans go to in order to catch Weston-McEwen games, but they keep leveling his expectations.
“The parents, the kids in the program, the school, it just takes everybody,” Hansell said. “I really believe they come out and support the way they do because of what the kids do not only on the field but off it as well.
“To have that really makes it something special to be the head coach at Weston-McEwen.”
Even in the midst of a TigerScots blowout — the first time the team has been on the receiving end of one of those this season — the fans remained energized, Hansell said. When quarterback Dallas Reich threw a touchdown to Elliot Salter for the first Weston-McEwen score of the game late in the fourth quarter, the stands lit up like the 46-8 deficit was the other way around.
That’s dedication, Hansell said, an undying support for a win or a loss. Fortunately for the TigerScots and their fans this season, the winning far outweighed the losses.
Weston-McEwen ended its season with an 11-1 record and fell one step short of the Class 2A championship game.