Cedar Ridge and Orange high schools may be rivals on the field but they’ll share a common bond during Friday night’s cross-county game at Cedar Ridge.
Players from Cedar Ridge will be wearing an extra sticker on their helmets — the No. 22 in orange. It’s to show their support for Orange junior varsity football player Thys Oldenburg, who was injured on Oct. 12 in a game against Hillside. Oldenburg, No. 22 for the Orange JV, suffered a head injury and has been hospitalized in a medically-induced coma at Duke University Hospital since then.
Cedar Ridge coach Scott Loosemore said his team is making the gesture out of respect.
“Our kids know their kids. They’ve all grown up together through elementary and middle school,” Loosemore said. “They’re pretty tight even now in high school. It shows the kids at Orange that we’re all still one big football family.”
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Loosemore said the idea is something he’s used before when he coached at Eastern Guilford. In an East Guilford rivalry game against Southern Guilford, his team had stickers bearing the jersey number of a Southern Guilford player who died in an automobile accident earlier in that season.
Cedar Ridge (1-8, 0-4 Big Eight) will need all the inspiration it can muster against Orange (6-2, 3-1). The Red Wolves’ season hasn’t gone as expected and they’re still looking for their first conference win. Orange, meanwhile, is trying to keep pace near the top of the conference standings with leaders Northwood and Northern.
“When you get to these rivalry games, you’re supposed to be able to throw out the records,” Loosemore said. “It’s been quite a few years since we’ve beaten them but I know our kids will be up for the game. We played really hard last year early in the game and then we ran into some bad luck and let the game get away from us. We can’t let that happen again.”