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Players Not Alone in Experiencing Emotion of a Rivalry

Fans get pumped up for rivalry football games.

The crack of helmets and shoulder pads colliding wasn’t the only sound produced by the rivalry football game between traditional Northern Region powers Robinson and Lake Braddock on Oct. 1. Outside of the playing field at Lake Braddock Secondary School, past the visitors’ sideline and the Rams cheerleaders was a group of Robinson students referred to as the "Drumline."

Using drumsticks to pound on plastic buckets and metal bowls, the students, some sporting body paint and creative clothing, helped pump up a Robinson crowd clad in blue and gold.

Senior Lucas Coplon took an hour to get ready for the game. Dressed in a "Destroy the Bruins" T-shirt, blue shorts, gold tights and his upper body covered in blue paint, Coplon helped set up pregame tailgating festivities before pounding away on his bucket.

"Getting dressed was the hardest part," Coplon said. "Leggings for guys just don’t work."

Joining Coplon in the Drumline were Brian Phillips, Megan Bush, Tori Baker, Andy DeBoard and Charlotte Owens. Meanwhile, the Robinson crowd heckled two of Lake Braddock’s prominent players. Rams fans held up an enlarged photo of all-state quarterback Michael Nebrich with a red "X" through it, and playfully taunted Bruins receiver Matt Zanellato, who transferred to Lake Braddock from Robinson prior to the 2010 season.

"It’s a great atmosphere," Coplon said. "I love it out here. The rivalry is really good. The tension is really great. It brings a lot of people out here. Everyone is just looking for a good result."

Robinson fans got their wish.

Last season, Lake Braddock defeated Robinson by 31 points in the region semifinals on its way to the Virginia AAA Division 6 state title game. On this night, the Rams got revenge, defeating the Bruins 10-7. Robinson senior cornerback Thomas Petrocci, who intercepted two Nebrich passes, said he enjoyed the rivalry experience.

"It’s crazy, but it’s definitely a lot of fun to play in an environment like this," Petrocci said. "We knew this was how it was going to be. We prepared for it and we came out and played."

Robinson senior running back Jared Velasquez scored the game-tying touchdown in the third quarter and was the team’s workhorse, carrying 34 times for 137 yards during a physical contest.

"You could feel the atmosphere coming from both stands," Velasquez said. "It’s something as a little boy you dream of playing in."

Lake Braddock fans were also plenty loud, but on this night, their team came up short.

While the Robinson-Lake Braddock contest is in the books, there are other rivalry games approaching.