Just one year ago, the Bus Drivers and Fruit of the Boom both walked off the field at Fortuna Bowl defeated.
The Drivers were denied a victory by the underdog Bombshell, who hoisted the trophy high at the end of the night, after conquering the winningest team in women’s flag football.
Fruit of the Boom was routed after five overtimes by a persistent Goon Squad, the unofficial rival of a team who could not win the Fortuna Bowl trophy despite two years of being in close contention for it.
This year was different. It was the year of redemption.
The Bus Drivers were matched against S.W.A.T., a talented team of women lead by quarterback Rachel Rivette, junior MAJOR.
The Drivers were lead largely in part by Brittany Sepeda, senior graphic design and photography double major, who proved to be the game’s most valuable player on the offensive side of the ball as she weaved through the S.W.A.T defense and completed tough plays when it counted.
“The biggest obstacle was just overcoming our nervousness,” Sepeda said. “We were playing in front of a big crowd and I told my team, ‘The team who is going to win tonight is the one who is going to execute plays and keep their composure.’”
Through the first half, the game remained close, with the Bus Drivers only maintaining a narrow lead on their opponents for the majority of the game.
The difference between the two teams ultimately came down to their determination to win and make plays happen when it mattered most.
S.W.A.T. remained scoreless despite many opportunities in the red zone to put up points against the Bus Drivers, but the momentum and energy of the game was in favor of a quick and effective defense courtesy of the Drivers.
When the final whistle blew, the scoreboard read 18-0 in favor of the relentless Bus Drivers who never let their foot off the gas once the game began.
Their record-breaking 10 Fortuna Bowl wins is unmatched by any team throughout all of the intramural football leagues at California Baptist University, and rightfully so when a heartbreaking loss comes full-circle to become a redeeming and resounding victory.
With the lights dimmed and fog machine on full blast ready for the next showdown, a team of tights-wearing men marched onto the field dawning bright yellow polo shirts and sights set on the ever-elusive Fortuna Bowl trophy.
Fruit of the Boom is a team familiar with the big stage of a championship game, and with team chemistry finding its roots in the dorms of Smith Hall for many of the players, the idea that “the third time is the charm” felt like it was finally about to become a reality.
“A lot of people may already know this but almost our entire team is a group of guys that have been friends since freshman year in Smith Hall,” said Matt Spoelstra, junior biology major and center. “We all became friends through different ways such as rooming situations, having classes together or just playing on the same intramural teams. Then sophomore year we decided to just make a team of all our friends and we realized that we were actually pretty good.”
The defending champions Goon Squad, led by Chase Chambers, senior healthcare administration major, was not about to lose without a fight though.
From the sound of the first whistle to the final play of the game, intensity and energy remained high for both teams.
Special plays and precise strategies were crafted to counter the strengths of each team and capitalize on any windows of opportunity presented throughout the course of the game.
“The game-tying touchdown was a designed run in our Heavy formation, moving myself to quarterback to give a more versatile look to our goal line offense,” said Kyle Reed, senior computer science major and utility offensive player for Fruit of the Boom.
Like a much more physical game of chess, the game played out almost identically to last year’s 5-overtime thriller, until a shift in momentum gave one team the upper hand.
After a hard fall on a difficult play, Eric Allen senior senior civil engineering major and key wide receiver for Goon Squad injured his right shoulder, forcing him to exit the game early.
Fruit of the Boom, with Reed at the helm in the red zone, made the most of a slightly dampened Goon Squad morale to give his team the go-ahead touchdown and successful extra-point attempt to barely take the lead.
It was this effort which earned Reed the honor of Most Valuable Player for his team and finally broke the cycle of loss to give a veteran Fruit of the Boom team its first Fortuna Bowl victory in its three years of trials and tribulations.