After forfeiting a home playoff game due to devastating wildfires, the football team from Paradise (Calif.) High School got a welcome respite from those harsh realities.
According the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco 49ers invited 35 members of the Paradise Bobcats football team, 16 cheerleaders and eight coaches to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara to watch the Monday Night Football game against the visiting New York Giants.
The Camp Fire, one of the most destructive wildfires in California history, last week destroyed more than 100,000 acres and leveled more than 6,700 structures, meaning many of the students invited to Levi’s stadium have been living in shelters or other temporary housing and used the three-hour bus ride to catch up on some needed sleep.
According to Bobcats head coach Rick Prinz, more than 90 percent of his players’ homes were completely destroyed. “It’s a great diversion for the kids,” Prinz said. “They’re exhausted and all displaced…They’re going to remember this forever. It’s just a great show of humanity and support.”
High school concedes football season due to wildfires.— MaxPreps (@MaxPreps) November 10, 2018
"I’ve talked with our administration...to see what we can do but honestly I spent the whole night wondering where my mother was, not thinking about football,” Paradise head coach Rick Prinz.https://t.co/2chIcZAuwx pic.twitter.com/QTf9cnbwp3
Bobcats senior middle linebacker Henry Becker said the fires left his town in chaos. “It’s super sad to see the town that you’re born in to go to rubble,” he said.
The Bobcats, who went 8-2 during the regular season, were forced to forfeit a home playoff game against Red Bluff this week. “It was really hard but it was a team decision,” said Bobcats junior running back Jacob Weldon. “We all made it and it was the best for our community, we felt.”
After hearing about the tragedy in Paradise, the 49ers responded with a kind offering. “We mobilized to get them 68 tickets to the game,” 49ers director of corporate communications Roger Hacker told the Examiner. “[We] arranged a bus to carry their district superintendent, school athletics director, and team members to tonight’s game.”
Minutes before kickoff, Levi’s Stadium held a moment of silence for Paradise and the thousands of others who have been affected by the wildfires in Northern California.