Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Breaking Down The CROP

They arrive in droves, well prior to the main event. Well prior to kick-off. You can spot them from miles away, hyped as ever and dressed to the nines in green or black.

  They are littered in face paint, with numbers etched across their stomachs in black paint. The hiked up spirit has been the driving force for an unrivaled and unhinged Section 1 fan base, THE CROP.

For years, the Huskers devout student fan base has done everything to create havoc for opponents entering these hostile confines of Charlie Murphy Field. It goes way beyond that. Yorktown's fans are schooled on the opponent and know every little detail you can imagine, sprucing up the creative chants that echo off into the distance, only to be remembered during alumni gatherings re-visiting epic games. That's how impactful the CROP is to Yorktown's athletic scene. Calling them the sixth man would be an overused and understated cliche. The CROP has driven fanfare to unprecedented levels, with a laundry-list of one-liners emanating from the jam-packed bleachers. 

 In basketball, shooting an airball against Yorktown will quickly earn you a game-long nickname. It will alter your perception as a player from the start. A missed layup, an ill-advised or errant pass, those will earn you more than just bench splinters with this limitations-free family of hecklers.

 You will hear taunts the moment your fingertips make contact with that Spalding. 

There are drums and horns and fans calling for your starting spot, calling for your roster spot, suggesting that you're better suited for JV and modified. All game long, they are in your ear. When the home team hits a shot or tosses in a putback or breaks a drought, the eruption becomes ear-shattering cresendo.

 It's a pressure cooker if there is such a thing in high school athletics.

This renders Yorktown one fo the toughest places in Section 1 to play, no matter what team is on the floor. Whether it is five studs or five duds, you will hear that steady onslaught of digs and colorful rips everytime you touch the rock. Your game is under a sheer magnifying glass in these confines.

Expect much of the same this football season. The CROP brings the ruckus with a cast of unique characters. There is a bone-thin, floppy-haired man who goes by "Jesus." 

There are costumes. 

There are various attempts at the finer art of excessive celebration, as CROPPERS set off smoke displays and what appears to be kiddie fireworks and create a sideshow that mirrors the battle on the field.

 Few have given THE CROP the business. 

The most notable CROP rival on this side of the Section  has to be the Mahopac Maniacs. Those who recall some of those boys basketball games of 2010 and 2011, remember the pure fan theater. The Jordan Moody, Jacob Mercado, Alex Poritzy, Chris Mosca, and Chris Schmitz team versus Mahopac with guys like Ryan Wagner, Anthony Annunziata, Robbie Catalino, and TJ Foley were as memorable on the court for the war of words in the bleachers. The pure animosity of a Yankees vs. Red Sox or a UNC v.s North Carolina was on display. The hate was real. The beef was cooking. This was not Week 1 of freshman orientation--nobody was looking to make new friends.

Don't sleep on Panas, which was outnumbered but never the less helped stage a battle during the home and away game last season. The beef trickled to Twitter afterwards. 

Tensions ran high. Hard stares were returned. Words of warning were launched, each reaction mirroring a wild jab-for-jab showcase against Walter Panas this past season. 

THE CROP won't alter their tempo or change their energy for the opponent. They want the foe to remember the name and know they were there. THE CROP has created a known and expected sideshow and a homefield advantage which few programs possess.

Everyone gets into the act. The humor, the taunts, the bad blood between the rival fans and the vast array of costumes add plenty of entertainment value you won't get elsewhere.

Like a highly-regarded athlete eager to prove himself on a grand stage, the CROP intensifies during post-season battles. Never was this more evident than the beginning of June. 

Against a Jamesville-DeWitt fan base, the CROP unveiled a chorus-like "I BELIEVE" chant which sent the bleachers into a frenzy. Like conductors leading an orchestra through its routine cadence, the CROP's poster boys create the themes and discuss which chants to pepper the field with. They are shirtless and bleeding of uncontrollable energy and ready to erupt immediately following a goal.

Never more was this evident during the most dramatic play of the game.



A trio of Jamesville-DeWitt players swarmed and swatted him in unison, but Yorktown's Austin Fusco blurred out of traffic.

Motoring up Hofstra University's turf, the defenseman's eyes were burning and his head was overflowing with steam.

Yorktown's seventh New York State Championship was hanging in the balance.

A lofty goal, etched on the chalkboard since the first day of winter workouts, was at stake here.

Buoyed by a cage-to-cage burst of momentum, Fusco ditched his original plan.

Initially, Fusco's intentions were to whizz the rock to an angle side shooter for a transition pull-and-pop.

He had gone over the play a hundred times. He applied it during Yorktown's state semifinal win over Lynbrook, hitting Connor Vercruysse for a transition snipe.

This time, Fusco's legs kept flying. Adrenaline spiked through the senior's 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame at a maniacal rate.

The net looked wider than Sparkle Lake.

It looked wider than the Hudson River to the emotional senior captain and Defensive Game MVP.

As he coasted into the attack area, Fusco cocked back and ripped one into the top shelf, supplying a 10-8 edge with 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.

If this was an indoor game, the roof would have been torn completely off. That's how electric the revved up CROP's reaction was. This was lacrosse bedlam, a state power hell-bent on regaining its elitism behind its crazed crowd.

Though graduation claims some of the CROP's most noble and notable faces, will the wild fan base continue to kill it at a maniacal rate in 2014-15?