The Crimson White

Football after the storm

Jasmine Cannon

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Nearly 102,000 fans will fill Bryant-Denny Stadium for the first regular game of the 2011 season on Saturday. This will be the first time the Tide touches the field for a regular season game since the April 27 tornado that destroyed some of Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas.

Players know that football means a lot to the state of Alabama, and especially to the city of Tuscaloosa. Nevertheless, they look forward to hitting the field while carrying the city on their backs.

“I think it’ll be an emotional game for us and maybe for some Kent State players; I know it will be for the community and Tuscaloosa,” junior linebacker Nico Johnson said. “We’ve been working hard up to this point for this game and we realize how big this game is going to be to so many people. We kind of turned it up this week to prepare.”

Senior linebacker Jerrell Harris said he knows the atmosphere will be unbelievable because of the extreme fan support.

“It’s a lot of people that are really looking forward to this game, so we just know that we have to come out and give a good show,” Harris said. “It’s just not for us, it’s for everybody.”

The Tide will be taking on a Kent State team that traveled to Tuscaloosa over the summer to help with the clean up of the city along with Alabama players. Tide players made a connection with some Kent State players when the Golden Flashes traveled to Tuscaloosa to help with relief efforts.

Johnson said he made one connection with KSU running back and Alabama native Jacquise Terry whom he says really felt bad about the storms that ravaged the city. While it will be all business on the field on Saturday for Johnson and Terry, they will remain friends forever.

As announced by Coach Saban, the team will be sporting ribbons decals on their helmets to represent everyone who’s helped with relief efforts and those that have passed away. Players see it as an honor to wear this ribbon the entire season.

“I think that’s great,” senior offensive lineman Williams Vlachos said. “Growing up in this state, I know what the football program means to a lot of people, and certainly with the circumstances recently, I think it’s even more so for us and for everybody. So, I think that’s a great thing and I look forward to having it on there.”

This will be the first time for all students to gather together in the student section to cheer on their peers as they embark on a potentially magical season. Latifah Rasheed, a senior majoring in telecommunications and film, said she believes Saturday’s game will be a get-away for many.

“I feel like it’s kind of a way to escape for a lot people who are still dealing with it,” Rasheed said. “It’s something to look forward to. I think the atmosphere is probably going to be a lot more exciting than past games because it’s so much that happened in the offseason. Everyone is really looking forward to it and I think it’s going to be a really exciting time. I’m excited.”

Rasheed also said it is good for the team to wear the ribbon stickers on their helmets as a way to keep people reminded and bring awareness of what has happened.

Kick off is set for 11:21 a.m. on Saturday.

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Football after the storm