Orange makes a splash with CIF-SS football championship celebration – Orange County Register

Orange’s traditional victory celebration welcomed a long-desired football championship Saturday night with a new level of enthusiasm.

The Panthers partied like it was not 1999, as Prince once popularized in a song, but 1929.

Orange christened its first CIF-SS title since 1929 by taking a bus ride to the Old Towne plaza for its customary victory laps. The scene, however, was anything but routine.

Three buses full of players and band members arrived with a police escort to a cheering community after the Panthers’ 30-20 victory against Silver Valley of Yermo at nearby El Modena High.

Players poked their heads out of the bus windows while Orange coach Robert Pedroza held the championship plaque high for all to see. Many in the crowd, which included Mayor Teresa Smith, recorded the scene on their phones.

After Orange made its four laps around the downtown plaza – one for each touchdown scored by the Panthers – the fountain party started.

Players, still in uniform, jumped into the large water fountain in the center of the plaza and splashed before a prideful chant of “Panthers! Panthers!” broke out. Soon, the Orange band played as students danced and celebrated.

“The scene on Saturday night was amazing,” said Pedroza, the Panthers’ third-year coach. “It’s the best thing about Orange – the community gets involved. … They made the boys feel special.”

Orange’s team is unique. The Panthers are champions after finishing 0-10 in 2014. They finished 4-6 in Pedroza’s first season and 7-3 last fall.

And on Friday, Orange (12-2) will host Caruthers (12-0) in a CIF Southern California Division 6-AA regional playoff game at El Modena at 7 p.m.

Pedroza said after such a wild celebration Saturday, it might be a challenge for his players to find motivation this week. But the coach didn’t sound too concerned Monday.

“I’m going to lean on the seniors – they love playing football,” Pedroza said of a core group that includes quarterback Jason Wilkinson and wide receivers Jordan Schmidt and Syrus Collins.

“Anything from here is gravy,” Pedroza…

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