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  • Ednold

Kennedy 11/5/21

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Another week, another progressive president. This time I was headed to Kennedy High School in Mt. Angel to watch the Trojans host the Nestucca Bobcats in the first round of the 2A playoffs. Once again, Mrs. Ednold had been detained at work, so I stopped along the way and picked up little bro to occupy the shotgun seat in The Bucket.

Mt. Angel is a town of 3,500 about 20 miles northeast of Salem, and it's one of those places that isn't easily accessible from any main highway. It's kind of in the middle of all the backroads, so we got to see lots of the Marion County countryside on our way there. The townsite was planned in 1850 by a guy named Ben Cleaver, and he named his new settlement Roy. In 1882 Roy got a post office, but even then Roy's days were numbered because the year before Fr. Adelhelm Odermatt had arrived in Oregon looking for a place to build a new abbey for his group of Benedictine monks from Engelberg, Switzerland. He found the perfect spot just a mile or two southeast of Roy. This coincided with lots of German immigrants settling in the area, and within a year or two Roy was history and the name had been changed to the English translation of Engelberg: Mt. Angel. I feel bad for Mr. Ben Cleaver, who'd worked hard to put his town Roy on the map and then had a group of newcomers come in and change the name. But I have to admit, it was an improvement. Really, Ben? Roy was the best name you could come up with? Anyone lucky enough to get to name a town has to do better than that.

The Benedictine Abbey and monastery is still on the hill outside of town, and on the south end of town the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel have a huge campus that serves as a base for all of their good works. The monks from the Abbey ran a prep school in town for almost a hundred years, but it closed in 1969, only to be opened again the following year as the public high school, John F. Kennedy. It seems to have been the last high school in Oregon named for a president, which is a tradition that appears to be going out of style all over the country. There is a Lyndon Johnson High School in Texas, which makes sense, I guess. Not surprisingly, there isn't a single Richard Nixon High School in the whole country, nor a Gerald Ford High School. There is one Jimmy Carter Early College High School, whatever that is. Strangely, it's also in Texas. There are Ronald Reagan High Schools in Wisconsin, North Carolina and, again, Texas, and a George (H.W.) Bush High School in, you guessed it, Texas. So,outside of Texas, people have realized that maybe presidents aren’t the best choice when it comes to naming schools. But, as presidents go, Kennedy was better than most, and his life was a lot shorter than it should have been, so I don’t have a problem with Kennedy High School. I just wonder how they ended up being the Trojans. What do Trojans have to do with the Kennedys? It’s an odd pairing, but I'm having trouble coming up with anything better.

We went through the town of Mt. Angel and saw all of the buildings that have been designed to make you think you're in a Bavarian village, with their German spellings of English words in old-world font on buildings with steep-pitched roofs. It's kind of cheesy, but it's something different, which is always nice. Due to the Swiss-German heritage of its founders (sorry, Mr. Cleaver), the town is home to the northwest's largest Oktoberfest and also the largest glockenspiel (some kind of giant xylophone thing. If you want to know more than that you'll have to look it up). There's a huge, barnlike, Festhalle which is reminiscent of the Hofbrauhaus in Munich if you've had enough to drink. And Oktoberfest isn't the only festival in Mt. Angel, which is a treat for everyone because it means you get to see me in my lederhosen twice a year. In February you can get in your Volkswagen and go there for the Volksfest, which has improved quite a bit over the last few years. It used to totally suck. In fact, it was so bad it was called the Wurstfest. But the Wurstfest was sued by a fest that was even worse. Guess where that fest is: Texas! The Texans had copyrighted their fest and, to be fair, if there really is a genuine Wurstfest it would have to be in Texas. They have the worst of everything. So now the Wurstfest is the Volksfest, but it's still a celebration of all things sausage, which sounds pretty good, or at least not the worst. And whether you're looking for the best wurst or the worst wurst, I'm sure you can find it there. And I think we'd all agree that lots of things were worse than the worst wurst.

We found the high school on the northeast edge of town, and the field had a different feel to the others we had seen lately. Situated in the relatively flat agricultural land of the Willamette Valley, surrounded on three sides by cropland, I got the sense of what a game might be like in Kansas or Nebraska, except that snow-covered Mt. Hood was looming to the northeast. That's a sight you won't see on the Great Plains. The field is natural grass and, on a night when other schools who had made the playoffs chose to play away from home on other schools' artificial grass, I'm glad Kennedy had chosen to stay home. It didn't rain during the game but the field was plenty damp and muddy to start with and by the end the active players were all caked in mud and the field was starting to show obvious signs of wear and tear. Depending on the weather, Kennedy may be able to host another game next week, but I imagine that by the end of that game it will be hard to find a green spot anywhere on the field. I hope they have the option to play at a different venue if they advance to the semi-finals.

North side (visitors) seating

There's a nice rubber running track that runs between the field and the stands, and a nice little section of bleachers on the north side for the visiting fans. You know by now how I feel about aluminum bleachers, but otherwise the home grandstand on the south side is comfy. There’s lots of room and the whole thing is covered. But it's weird that there are no lights under the roof. Not a single bulb, and it was dark in there. But unless you wanted to read the program or see what you were eating it wasn’t a big deal. Just a little odd. There is a really nice concession stand just west of the grandstand that served the normal stuff: Nothing fancy; very basic. The hot dogs and nachos and coffee were just hot dogs and nachos and coffee, but that's not a complaint.

Home (south) grandstand

The Kennedy Trojans entered this game seeded #2 in the 2A playoffs as the champions of Special District 2 with an 8-1 record. Their only loss had been at home in a close game against #1 Heppner. They were state runners-up four times before finally winning it all in 2018, and then lost another championship game in 2019 to that team from Heppner, so there is a little rivalry there. Nestucca had finished third in Special District 1 with a 5-3 record, and we expected to be rooting the home team on to a berth in the second round against either Santiam or Gaston, and that's the way it worked out. Nestucca has some tough kids and they put up a good fight. It's not hard to see how they finished with a winning record, but the Trojans were bigger at every position and had a quarterback who could throw, and did so for several big plays. The Bobcats never quit, but they wore down as the game went on and the Trojans stretched a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter into a 35-0 lead by halftime. The clock ran continuously in the second half and the Trojans only managed to tag on a 30-yard field goal to make the final 38-0, but the result was never in doubt.

Apparently Kennedy doesn’t have a pep band, but if ever there was a game crying out for something to pep things up, this was it. Maybe the football team’s success in recent years has spoiled the Kennedy fans a little bit, but long before halftime they seemed to have lost interest in the game and the whole place was quiet except for the cheerleaders. There was no Senior Night to celebrate, no homecoming, no halftime show, no nothing. I suppose the thrashing of yet another visiting team was just too commonplace for anyone to get too excited about. There was a big sign at the top of one section of the grandstand declaring it the Student Section, but as far as I could tell there were no students sitting in that section, or any other section. The 6 or 7 Trojan cheerleaders did their best, but they had nobody to lead and were mostly ignored by the people in the stands in front of them. It was just a strangely unresponsive crowd, huddled together in the lightless, dark cave of a grandstand watching, or not, their team win another game.

We hopped back in The Bucket and made our way through the faux-German downtown and out to the highway on perfectly dry blacktop. As I stopped to drop off little bro a few sprinkles started to fall, and within a minute or two the clouds had opened and the downpour started in earnest. It was a lot like our ride home from Waldport a few weeks ago, which made me wonder how they had fared in their game (they beat Elgin 72-30) and whether things may have turned out differently in Mt. Angel if that storm had showed up an hour or two earlier. In the end, I don't think it would have made much difference. As dominant as Kennedy was in this game it seems like a rematch with the Heppner Mustangs is all but inevitable, and I'll be looking forward to seeing who comes out on top.

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