The U of A-ASU feud is thought by some to be in friendly competition but you could have fooled me on Friday. As soon as we exited our car and began our long walk to the stadium the tension could be seen. There were Cat fans and Devil fans heckling each other all the way and only got better once we entered the stadium.
We were sitting right in the middle of it all, right on the fifty yard line three rows up. We were sitting next to a group of guys that called themselves the Red Army. These guys were some of the most passionate U of A football fans I had ever seen. They told me they formed the Red Army about four years ago and haven't missed a home game since. They were decked out in red jump suits and red helmets sporting their title of Red Army.
I had the opportunity to interview a few of these guys (all in their 20's) just before the game started.
"We have more heart than ASU," said Chaz Elsden, UofA alumni, and leader of the Red Army.
"Twenty four to fourteen Arizona" predicted Darryl Friberg, 25, another member of the Red Army.
The Red Army wasn't the only ones who were pumped up for the game. It seemed as if every fan in the seats, ASU or U of A, was ready for this match up.
"It's pretty intense," said Dan Herzfeld, a U of A junior. "ASU sucks."
Just before game time the chants began and to me that was what was intense. Every chant from "U of A" to "F… ASU" to "ASU sucks" could be heard throughout the stadium. I even saw some "F" ASU shirts and Sun Devil dolls with nooses around their necks.
If you were an ASU fan it wasn't such a good idea to travel over to the Arizona student section and especially not past the Red Army. Every Sun Devil fan that passed these guys got heckled and was probably thinking twice about walking back that way.
I came to the game with my buddy and after the game I thought I was deaf. I already knew this guy was a pretty serious Wildcat fan but I really never saw him as passionate as he did on Friday. Every time the U of A scored, made an interception, or gained a good amount of yardage this guy went nuts. He knocked me off the bleachers plenty of times and I don't think I have ever been hugged as much by another man in my life.
When ASU receiver Matt Miller dropped a picture perfect pass with just over a minute to go Arizona fans knew the game was theirs. Believe me they let it show too. I have never heard an eruption from the fans like I did then.
Even the girls behind me were screaming at the top of their lungs. My buddy almost wet himself. It was almost as if they had just won the Rose Bowl. To many fans this was more important. To beat ASU was like a dream come true. The Cats had taken back territory.
When time expired we all rushed the field. I have never had the opportunity to do such a thing and I for one will never forget it. We were right in the middle of the field with all the players. I was getting crushed and trampled on but I didn't care.
This is what sports are all about. Fans live for moments like this. We managed to move out to the goal post. Uof A fans were climbing up the post and wrestling security guards. Despite all the craziness, things were cool. No one got out of line. Other than the fans on the goalposts, people behaved. I know you shouldn't storm the field, but we all got caught up in it.
Better luck next year, Sun Devils.