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October 16, 2013

Experiencing college football — Grizzlies style

Oakland University football wins program’s first-ever home game

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Oakland University running back Nick Taylor is pictured during the Golden Grizzlies’ first-ever home football game against Columbus State. Oakland won the game and, at press time, was 3-0 and ranked third in the National Club Football Association power rankings.

Tailgating.

Fans sporting jerseys and school colors.

Fall weather.

The stands filled with enthusiastic fans.

Certain things are expected when watching a college football game. But up until this season, if the students, fans and alumni of Oakland University wanted to experience that, they had to look elsewhere.

All of that changed with the approval of a club football team at Oakland. And after having two road games to open the season, fans had their first opportunity to experience the atmosphere of an Oakland home football game Oct. 5, when the Golden Grizzlies defeated Columbus State Community College 36-26 in front of a crowd filled with plenty of supporters at the Auburn Hills Civic Center Park, where Oakland is scheduled to play its home games this season.

After defeating UM-Flint and The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in their first two contests, the victory against Columbus State improved the Golden Grizzlies record to 3-0 at press time.

As impressive of a start as Oakland is off to in its inaugural season, perhaps even more impressive is the kind of support the Golden Grizzlies’ received from their fans.

“They were great,” head coach Al Manfroni said of the crowd. “It really helps, especially when things get tough; that’s when the crowd starts to pick you up. It’s been great.”

The recognition the football team has received hasn’t exactly escaped the attention of quarterback Brandon Tucker.

“Being at home, it’s just electric here,” said Tucker, who ran for three touchdowns in the game. “They’re recognizing us a lot more than they were. Lot of fan support now.”

Dan Donahue, who performed color commentator duties for campus radio station WXOU, was impressed with the atmosphere surrounding Oakland’s first football game.

“It’s cool to see your school actually playing a football game,” he said. “The fans that were here cheering — we had concessions, we had the radio (WXOU) here, people wearing football jerseys. Some people that don’t get involved on campus are like, ‘We have a football team?’ ‘Yeah, come on. Instead of going to a buddy’s school or watching it on TV, you can come watch your own school play football.’ I think we got a lot more to come for Oakland University.”

Club President David Brosky, who also plays wide receiver/defensive back, initiated the process to start the football team, and it may have been hard for him to imagine a better reaction than what Oakland has received.

“It’s blown past expectations; it’s been exceeding them,” he said. “It’s been (an) awesome experience, so far. Lot of work put into it, and it’s starting to pay off.”

At press time, Oakland was ranked third in the National Club Football Association power rankings.

Oakland’s next home game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 19 against Miami (Ohio) University.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.