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Wildcat Students Bring the Destruction at First Football Game

Old Destruction Zone (3 of 5).jpgWeber State University students supported their football team at their first home game of 2019.

Weber State has a long-running tradition of students supporting its athletic teams. When opposing teams step on to the football field at Stewart Stadium, they not only have to face the Wildcats’ imposing defense, but they must deal with the loud and daunting Weber State student section, the Destruction Zone.

The student section officially renamed itself as the Destruction Zone three years ago. The section gets its name from the official term for a group of wildcats.

“We’re there for every sport,” Destruction Zone president Nate Arrington said. “It’s something fun at Weber. It’s a big part of the college experience anywhere. It’s fun to be there and to be a part of the crowd.”

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The Wildcats’ first home game against Cal Poly proved to be a success both on and off the field. Arrington praised the student involvement at the game and the passion of those in attendance, saying that the number of students who attended the game was the biggest he has seen during his time at Weber State.

In the Destruction Zone’s efforts to increase attendance, Arrington said that multiple promotions took place before and during the game, including a pregame tailgate on the north end of the stadium and a paddleboard giveaway, which Arrington said will take place at every home football game this season.

Although there were other promotions involved, Arrington said that the Destruction’s leadership tried to invite incoming freshmen to attend the game, which he said played a huge role in achieving the numbers the section had during the first home game of the year.

Players on the team credit the Destruction Zone’s size and noise level as a huge factor in their 41-24 win over the Mustangs.

“I think the student section is a big part in the game,” sophomore defensive end Jordan Lutui said. “They can really change the atmosphere and tempo of the game. They have a big impact.”

Junior linebacker Breckin Gunter said that last season, the Destruction Zone did not have a large number of students participate, but the support given at the first home game was very noticeable.

“It brought us a lot of energy with us out there, having that many fans,” Gunter said. “They’re always hooting and hollering and you can hear them when you get on the field.”

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Head coach Jay Hill praised the students who attended the game against Cal Poly, saying that the student section was as good of a group as has ever been at a game.

“The atmosphere at the stadium is relative to how many people are in there,” head coach Jay Hill said. “If we want to have a great atmosphere and win a lot of football games, we have got to more people in the stands.

Hill’s desire is to build on last game’s showing and have more students attend future games.

“The students, in my opinion, are the number-one priority for that,” Hill noted. “We want the students here. The bigger that group is, the better we play.”

With the Destruction Zone positioned behind the opposing team’s bench, students have an opportunity to further support their team and influence the game by yelling and distracting the opponent throughout the game.

“When they’re loud in the game, we can hear them but we want them behind the visiting bench,” Hill said. “That’s where we want them, loud. We want the other team to hear them.”

Lutui said that the Destruction Zone can get pretty loud during games and that the team can hear their noise across the field. “We can name specific guys in there that lead that section. I think they do a good job of getting into our opponent’s heads.”

The Destruction Zone’s presence extends beyond football games to all Weber State sporting events. Arrington said that the Destruction Zone’s leadership has plans to more heavily promote volleyball and soccer matches to increase student attendance and involvement.

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As for football games, Arrington said similar promotions to the first football game will continue throughout the season. Every game will include at least one giveaway, including a food, paddleboard and t-shirts. Various theme nights will also take place at different games during the year.

After experiencing many different student sections at schools across the country, members of the football team have nothing but good to say about the Destruction Zone and its supporters.

“They’re few in numbers but you can feel them.” Lutui said. “Apart from other schools, they have more spirit.”

With the increase in numbers from last year, Gunter noted that the increased size of the Destruction Zone adds an element he and others have not seen at other schools.

“They’ve been loud and rowdy and giving us a lot more energy than they do at other schools,” Gunter said. “I really like that and I feel like our team feeds off of that energy.”

Hill says that the best way the Destruction Zone can improve is by having more students attend games to increase its size and noise level. “The more people we get, the better it’s going to be,” Hill said. “The atmosphere of those guys and how they handle themselves is awesome. They’re doing their part in the game, we just have to get more of them.”

Arrington offered two ways students can easily participate in the Destruction Zone’s activities. “Our main focus is social media. That’s the easiest and fastest way to get the word out,” Arrington said.

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The other suggestion Arrington gave was for students to bring their friends to games, which played a big role in the Destruction’s numbers.

“That’s when it gets fun: when you come with your buddies and just have a good time,” Arrington said.

Students can follow the Destruction Zone and participate in its promotions on its different social media channels. Find them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, all under the name WSU Destruction.

Any students who want to become a part of the Destruction Zone’s leadership can send a message to any of the group’s social media accounts to receive more information.

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