Orange County Register awards Sunny Hills fans with its ‘OCVarsity Student Section’ recognition for Oct. 15 football game

Among+the+sea+of+black+and+yellow%2C+thousands+of+Sunny+Hills+students+cheer+for+the+football+team+that+was+playing+against+Troy+High+School+during+the+Oct.+15+homecoming+game.+Orange+County+Register+reporter%2C+Manny+Alvarez%2C+recognized+the+Sunny+Hills+Lancer+Nation+as+the+OCVarsity+Student+Section+Champion%2C+Oct.+18.

Kristel Laceste

Among the sea of black and yellow, thousands of Sunny Hills students cheer for the football team that was playing against Troy High School during the Oct. 15 homecoming game. Orange County Register reporter, Manny Alvarez, recognized the Sunny Hills Lancer Nation as the OCVarsity Student Section Champion, Oct. 18.

Irene Sheen

When the Oct. 15 rivalry football game against Troy High School ended, the 22-20 win kept the Lancers in second place in the Freeway League.

It also awarded the Sunny Hills student body with a first-time prize of a gray shield, which both schools’ football teams will contest for in years to come.

Upon returning to campus Monday, Oct. 18, students discovered through a lunch-time public address system announcement that the Battle of the Nations football game netted one more award – the Orange County Register’s OCVarsity Student Section Champion for Week 8

“When you’re battling for the Shield, you have to take it up a notch, and that’s what the Sunny Hills Lancer Nation did,” Orange County Register and Student Section reporter Manny Alvarez wrote in Monday’s online article. “… Sunny Hills packed the stands for its battle with the Troy War Zone.

“It wasn’t even close. Lancer Nation rocked the black and yellow and helped Sunny Hills hold on [to win].”

Alvarez said in an interview that although he typically handles the selection process on his own, this time around he provided six finalists for his fellow OCVarsity writers, Steve Fryer, Dan Albano, Michael Huntley and David Delgado, to decide on the Student Section of the week winner.

Besides Sunny Hills, those writers had to choose from the following schools: La Habra, San Clemente, Mission Viejo, Servite and Villa Park.

This was the first time that the recognition was given to the Sunny Hills fans since 2019 when the football team claimed its CIF-Southern Section Division 8 title.

Alvarez’s article also included a statement from “Lancer Nation,” which comprises two members of the Associated Student Body [ASB] – vice president senior Ellen Kim and publicity commissioner junior Sierra Chavez.

“We are so excited to be the OC Student Section of the week,” according to Lee and Chavez’s statement. “Especially with it being our Homecoming game plus our first ever Battle of the Nations game against our rivals Troy High School. Our Lancer Nation was fired up all night long, and we took the W and that shield with a 22-20 score! Lancer Nation is the BEST NATION! Go Lancers!”

Though the noise level of the home crowd (a total of nearly 2,000 tickets were sold, but it was unclear how many of the 2,000 occupied the Sunny Hills side of the stadium) was a bit subdued in the first half when the Lancers were shut out, that all changed in the third quarter when the football team mounted its comeback.

Those sitting in the home stands continued stomping their feet onto the bleachers while waving their black and yellow pom poms back and forth toward the field.

It wasn’t even close. Lancer Nation rocked the black and yellow and helped Sunny Hills hold on [to win].”

— Student Section reporter Manny Alvarez

The cheers remained non-stop: “The Lancers rock the house, and when the Lancers rock the house, they rock it all the way down. All the way down!” 

Head football coach Peter Karavedas also couldn’t help but notice the impact that those sitting in the home stands had on the outcome of the game.

“That was the biggest [home] crowd I’ve ever seen in that stadium, no question,” Karavedas said. “You could see the excitement the boys felt when they would make a big play, and that was just fueled by that crowd and that student section.”

One of the team’s players, defensive back senior Dane Soaper, agreed. 

“We knew we would be able to pull through and come back,” Soaper said. “[The home crowd] really elevated everybody and brought everyone up and ready to compete in a close game like that.”

For ASB athletics commissioner senior Natalie Moss, who coordinates all the athletic events throughout the school year, the Lancer Nation’s recognition reflected her efforts to bring school spirit to a sporting event. 

“It’s a rival game, and everyone from Sunny knows someone from Troy, so it really packed our stands,” Moss said. “[The turnout] was really surprising, and for a lot of people it might have been kind of overwhelming, but for the most part, it uplifted everyone.” 

Crediting much of the team’s energy toward the Lancer student section, Karavedas thanks all students and families who maintained their enthusiasm and support throughout the game. 

“It was great because one of the things we care about is not just winning football games for the football team but creating an awesome experience for the student body [and Friday night was] just evidence of that,” he said. “This isn’t about the football team; it’s about our whole community.” 

The ASB anticipates another fiery crowd to stand in support of the football team during its last few games of the Freeway League season against Sonora High School and Fullerton Union High School.

“I have similar expectations to keep up with our decorations and [continue] having the school spirit,” Moss said. “[I hope that] people know the chants and are learning them, [so] it’s not more of an ASB thing, but [something] everyone follows and the whole school knows.”