Wildcat fever is back

Clovis High School junior class president Gabriel Bryant, 16, adds a piece of wood to a pile Thrusday, a few hours before the school’s annual bonfire. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

Rick White

Like most boys his age, Stefan Smith dreamed of being a Clovis Wildcat.
He attended every game he could, and listened to the rest on the radio. Growing up within earshot of Leon Williams Stadium, he remembers the echo of the cannon that accompanies Clovis scoring plays reverberating through the still night. He remembers waiting for the day he too would run onto the emerald-green field of the stadium named after one of Clovis’ most fervent supporters, greeted by the cheers of thousands of purple-clad fans.
Smith will be among more than a dozen Wildcats who experience the mystique of Clovis High football for the first time tonight when Clovis hosts Highland in its 2003 home opener. The game, which begins at 7:30 p.m., is also Clovis’ homecoming.
Clovis (1-1) played its first two games on the road.
“It’s going to be exciting playing in front of all those people,” Smith said.
Senior linebacker Daryl Garcia shared the same dream as Smith.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a Clovis Wildcat,” Garcia said. “I think I’m going to have a lot of butterflies until the first hit.”
Sophomore running back Devin Hanson just hopes he’s able to sleep.
“It’s going to be nerve racking. I had a hard time sleeping last week,” said Hanson, who was called up to the varsity late last week and scored on a 1-yard run in the Wildcats’ 43-0 win at Roswell.
Hanson learned a little bit about what it’s like to play under the lights Friday nights at Leon Williams Stadium by serving as a water boy when he was younger.
“I know it’s a lot more intense,” Hanson said. “I think it’s going to be awesome playing in front of all those people.”
Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley knows all about the mystique of Leon Williams Stadium, having played on three state championship teams in the 1980s.
“The atmosphere is just incredible,” Kelley said. “When you’re a kid you remember sitting in the stands and watching your heroes and now all of a sudden you’re the one who’s out there.”
Kelley, Smith and hundreds of others are proof that dreams do come true at Leon Williams Stadium.