With a definite chill in the air and, as some would call "true football weather," hundreds of fans, family members, students, faculty and members of the community came out Sunday afternoon to take part in Vista Murrieta High School’s "Celebration of Success."
The event began with a parade along Clinton Keith Road in front of the school. The procession included members of the Vista Murrieta Junior ROTC, the Dorothy McElhinney Middle School marching band, the Bronco cheerleaders riding atop Murrieta Fire Department's Station No. 3 fire truck, the Golden Alliance marching band, the Bronco Bleacher Creatures (aka the BBC), the football coaches riding in special golf carts, and finally, members of the football team riding in the back of three stake bed trucks.
One parade watcher was Murrieta Valley Unified School District Board Member Ken Dickson, who said he was “especially proud of all the volunteer effort that's represented by events like this. Parents, community members, staff, here on a voluntary basis to celebrate these youngsters and their accomplishment that they'll remember the rest of their lives.”
Following the parade, a rally was held in the football stadium. Vista Murrieta High School Principal Darren Daniel gave the introductory remarks.
"The CIF Championship football season and the southern California band championship by our Golden Alliance marching band certainly are reasons for us to celebrate but I'd be remiss if I did not acknowledge our other fall champions," Daniel told the crowd.
“Vista Murrieta amassed four Southwestern League champions this fall: girls golf, boys water polo, volleyball, and football...as well as a silver medal in the state cross country meet by our lady cross country runners,” Daniel said.
"Success doesn't just happen,” Daniel said. “It takes diligence, commitment, virtue, and support from a community from a cast of role-players both on the field and off the field."
Special guests in attendance included Murrieta Valley Unified School District Superintendent Stan Scheer, School Board President Paul Diffley, School Board Members Robin Crist, Ken Dickson, Kris Thomasian and Margi Wray; City of Murrieta Mayor Doug McAllister and City Councilman Randon Lane; coaching staff lead by Coach Coley Candaele; assistant band director Brent Levine; and 2007 Bronco alumni and newly-signed Dallas Cowboy football player Justin Taplin-Ross.
McAllister said, "In all the years that I have been around this school from its inception, I've noticed one thing and I think it's appropriate that in every aspect of this school's life you have always operated with class...We’re here to congratulate the Broncos today."
Scheer congratulated both the championship team as well as Coach Candaele for his selection as CIF Coach of the Year.
Inferring several lines from Shakespeare, Diffley applauded the team's character and achievement of greatness.
As encouragement to the football players, Taplin-Ross said: "Just remember to always do things with class, the Bronco way, and just strive and never give up on your dreams.”
Taplin-Ross encouraged the athletes to “work hard because now you guys have a big ol' target on your backs. Everyone is going to be coming and giving you guys their best shot."
Candaele lauded the work of his coaching staff.
"They make it happen every day to keep the vision and belief of a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kid—every single day—to get the job done," he said.
Candaele took a few moments to walk the crowd through the 14-0 season and its periods of doubt, adversity, complacency and choosing to succeed.
“Even in a perfect season, a lot of things go wrong and a lot of things go wrong in life," Candaele said. "It's what you do after your adversity that makes the most of you."
Before threatening rain clouds could dampen the celebration, the rally ended with the Bronco fight song, led by Coach Steve Rausa, and the school's alma mater, led by Daniel.
As rally attendees streamed into the parking lot, two band moms shared their thoughts on the celebration.
“I think it was awesome," said Annette Oulela. "It was a really good day for everyone."
"I'm really proud that they had such a great year. It was so much fun to come and watch them play all their games," said Leslie Purvis. "It was exciting."
"I think it's awesome how great everybody works together—it's really a great team spirit," Oulela said. “I'm really proud of them."