Homecoming – 2003: Malibu Sharks win 45-0

The Malibu High Sharks Varsity football team stands on the sidelines before the homecoming game begins Friday. The Sharks won, 45-0.

A personal take on the Malibu High School Homecoming game.

By Hank Pollard

In my youth I enjoyed playing sports more than watching others play. Now the reverse is the case. What I enjoy now is watching young people play. I would rather see a Little League game at Bluffs Park than schlep to Chavez Ravine to watch the hapless Dodgers. When I travel I am on the lookout for local sports activity. I have seen a high school track meet in Malaysia, sandlot cricket in England, a high school rugby tournament in Singapore, sandlot baseball in Puerto Rico, high school field hockey in British Columbia and kids playing soccer in Italy and France. So, I go to Malibu High School’s home games, mostly football and water polo. Last Friday was Malibu High’s Homecoming 2003, and I was there for the football game between the Malibu Sharks and the Silver Valley Trojans.

I arrived a few minutes before kickoff while the teams were doing calisthenics. The Sharks were all in black and the Trojans in white jerseys and blue pants. The night sky was awesome. A full moon punctuated a starless ebony sky. To the right, the black hillside, dotted with house lights, seamlessly merged into the sky. To the left the ocean was also indistinguishable from the sky. It was cool and crisp – perfect football weather. The field was illuminated by temporary light standards.

There must have been close to a thousand spectators in the stands on the Malibu side, in the stands and milling on the running track circling the field. It looked like most of the school’s 750-student enrollment had turned out with parents and friends. Children were screaming and squealing, chasing each other and playing catch in the end zones. I always smile and feel good when I watch children at play. Between the stands and the sideline were the Malibu High School cheerleading squad and band, and a line of drummers (the Malibu High Drumline).

Just before the start of the game, the varsity seniors and their families were introduced. Each player ran to midfield with a bouquet and presented it to his mother. It was charmingly quaint. The game got underway and it soon appeared that Silver Valley was outclassed. Malibu scored within the first few minutes and kept scoring and led 27 to 0 at halftime. There was one spectacular play. The Malibu quarterback, No. 1 Jonathan O’Neal, was about to be sacked and got off a 15-yard pass, as he was inches from the ground. It resulted in a long run and, in a few plays, a touchdown. A sheriff’s car parked behind the end zone blared its siren and flashed its lights each time Malibu scored. The cheerleaders, band and drummers cheered loudly at each score. I watched the first half standing on the hillside above the field next to Malibu High’s “spotters” who were communicating with the head coach on the field with headsets. It was fascinating listening to their comments and suggestions. Their enthusiasm was greater than any spectator.

At halftime, the “Court” was presented. This was the freshmen’s Count and Countess, the sophomore’s Duke and Duchess, the junior’s Baron and Baroness and the senior’s Princes and Princesses. Then came several cheerleading routines and six girl dancers performed frenetically to recorded rap music.

I took this opportunity to visit the food table behind the end zone, which was catered by The Malibu Inn. I was disappointed that the gumbo (lobster, crab and chicken over rice) was sold out. I settled for a barbecued beef sandwich with beans, coleslaw and a bag of chips. I took this to the stands and ate as I watched the second half. Matters did not improve for Silver Valley and the game ended 45 to 0. The Trojans played well, but the Sharks played better.

When the game ended everyone, except for the Silver Valley team and coaches, seemed reluctant to leave. Knots of spectators formed around the Malibu players and there were lots of high fives and picture taking.

On the way to my car I looked in at the gym where the Homecoming Dance was getting underway. Lit by flashing lights, the walls reverberated to recorded music blasting out of large speakers. Several girls dancing singly and in pairs occupied the dance floor. Boys huddled around the perimeter talking and gesturing. Gradually, several sauntered on to the dance floor.

I walked to my car thinking that it had been a wonderful evening.