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Long lines await prep fans at Qualcomm

12/02/2013, 8:47pm PST
By Kirk Kenney, U-T

BEYOND THE END ZONE: Some miss kickoff for first game.

Fans line up to buy tickets before the first championship game of the day between St. Augustine and Mission Bay.

Tickets, please: Long ticket lines frustrated high school football fans Monday morning at Qualcomm Stadium. More people were in line trying to get tickets than were inside taking their seats 15 minutes before kickoff of the Division II championship game between St. Augustine and Mission Bay. Only three of 10 ticket windows were open at Gate F, and those windows didn’t open until 50 minutes before kickoff. The holiday week precluded selling tickets at schools, though St. Augustine did sell some tickets Monday morning before the game to those fans who stopped by campus. “We knew that this was going to happen,” said St. Augustine Athletic Director Mike Stephenson. “It would be best if they had some more ticket windows open so people didn’t have to wait until the end of the first quarter to get in.” At one point, a woman wearing a yellow security jacket shouted out, “There’s more ticket windows at Gate B.” Down at Gate B, there were three of six ticket windows open and another gathering of some 500 fans waiting to purchase tickets. “This is out of control,” said one fan as he walked to the back of the line.

Saints scene: The group of Saintsmen gathered in Field Level section 44 were boisterous and brash and doing their best to distract Mission Bay defenders. The cutout of Pope Francis they held up definitely had some people doing double takes. Asked why his halo was tilted, Saints mascot Halo Joe replied: “From doing naughty stuff.” Joe requested everything after that be off the record.

Remain calm: Cathedral Catholic students gathered in numbers along the Field Level rail, intent on joining the on-field celebration long before the Dons’ Jack Onstott returned an interception 98 yards for the triple-OT win against San Pasqual. But no one stormed the field in the jubilant aftermath. The students were literally talked down from the rail by the head of CSC Security, who identified himself only as Robert, in the minutes before the fantastic finish. “Why can’t we rush the field?” asked one student. “Because it’s trespassing,” said Robert, who earlier offered an even better reason to the students. “This is coming from your principal,” he shouted. “You will be suspended if you come on the field. If you’re a senior, you won’t graduate.” Message received, though Robert still wasn’t sure it would be obeyed. He whispered to another security guard to “make an example of the first one” if anyone hopped the rail. Hopefully, they’ve been taught how to make a clean tackle.

Banner day: A Mission Hills supporter made an early trip down from San Marcos to the stadium to get prime placement for four Grizzlies spirit banners — “Beware the Bear” among them — behind the west end zone. The banners were up before the day’s first contest, some seven hours before kickoff for the Mission Hills-Oceanside game. Good thinking, except for one thing — the banners were adjacent to where the Pirates came out for warm-ups. The Bear banner was clawed up and crumpled, falling to the turf an hour before the game started.

Big gulp: At most high school concession stands, the price for a hot dog is about $2 and sodas are $1. Prep fans got a lesson in higher math at the Q. “Prices are steep here,” said one fan as she considered what to purchase at a Plaza Level stand. Charger dog $6. Peanuts or Cracker Jack $6. Popcorn $6. Soda $5.75. Bottled water $5. If sips at the Fountain of Youth were that pricey, Ponce de Leon would have simply accepted growing old.

Crowd count: Officials said paid attendance for the three championship games totaled 9,700. That didn’t include people still in line for tickets.

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