by Joe Cook
Red jumpsuits, Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses at night, “swag” and red houndstooth-patterned pants are usually not part of the average person’s wardrobe.
However, for a member of the student section, it is not only normal, it is encouraged.
Although the football team’s first win came last week against New Caney, the student section at games has been more excited and louder than it has been in recent memory.
Under the leadership of seniors John Mouton and Peyton Wilson, the student section strives to be an important factor opponents have to take into account for games at Granger Stadium.
“I want students to be as rowdy for football games as they are for basketball games,” Mouton said. “That’s my goal for this year.”
Mouton has become a fixture on the sidelines for the past few seasons, acting as the self-proclaimed number one fan, transporting Tom Eagle as part of his role as Eagle Guard and greeting every student he can with a friendly “hey big guy.” Mouton was influential in organizing “Lerch Island Night” in homage to senior cornerback Miles Lerch. Students showed up with leis, their dad’s Hawaiian shirts, panama hats and sunglasses.
Football players have noticed the dedication of the student section. Players often request that Mouton get that crowd going at important junctures in the game.
“I feel like the fans are an extra motivation,” senior David Rizzo said. “In previous years, it’s been a real downer not seeing anyone in the stands. With the stands full it really adds to the atmosphere.”
The unofficial fan favorite of the student section is senior Trevor Lewis.
“We appreciate the student section a lot,” Lewis said. “My favorite cheer is the ‘we want Trevor’ chant.”
Even the cheerleaders have noticed a major difference between this season and last season.
“[The students] are better because they are a lot louder and they cheer more,” St. Agnes senior and cheer captain Kelly Rynd said. “Our job is a lot easier when they do the cheers with us.”
Mouton has tried to bring spirit to students, including using social media such as Facebook to help organize themes for games, plans for cheers and posing questions to Red Nation such as “What STH War Eagle Football player would you allow your daughter to go to homecoming with?” and “Which STH War Eagle will make all state this year?”
In the week following the game against Episcopal, EHS students started their own student section Facebook group, following the example set by Mouton.
During first lunch on August 25, Wilson and Mouton led a mini-pep rally with the intent of building spirit and fraternity between freshman and seniors. Senior Jason Kane led the loudest of the cheers, introducing the freshman to the heralded “Where You From?” cheer.
Pep rallies were an important factor in building the support the football team has. Mouton’s goal from the beginning of this year has been to create more opportunities for students to show their school spirit.
“We want to have more pep rallies,” Mouton said. “We want to get total student body involvement in getting fired up.”
Not every cheer is practiced before the game. Some of them are made up on the fly. Senior Jamil David was influential in leading an off-the-cuff cheer of “bricksquad.”
“It’s from the rapper Waka Flocka Flame,” David said. “It’s provocative, and it gets people going.”
One of the complaints by members of the student section is the fact that the band is now in the top part of the stands. For juniors and seniors, this is not an issue. However, sophomores and freshman are forced to sit one section over as a result of the band.
“I’d like for the student section to be in one place, to be able to participate and hear yells,” Mouton said. “I’d rather them all be in one area instead of having to wait under the stands waiting to snag a spot.”
The intimidation that the student section has provided this year as a result of senior leadership and creativity is not the efforts of only one man, but rather a team effort of all Eagles involved. The most successful college and professional teams gain fans as a result of success, and the increase in fervor by the student section this season is no different.