The Oak Ridge vs. Folsom football rivalry went a step too far for some in El Dorado Hills on Friday.
A pair of rocks in El Dorado Hills were painted Thursday in honor of a former Oak Ridge coach Jason Clark, who died earlier this year due to complications from pneumonia. By Friday morning, the rocks were painted over with Folsom colors and the initials F.B., for Folsom Bulldogs.
“This is really, really disappointing,” said Oak Ridge assistant coach Jimm Welch. “Tonight will be more than just about football. Every single Oak Ridge varsity player was coached by Jason when they were freshmen.
“The rock was a small piece of football but more about a great man who gave so much to his community.”
By midday Friday, the rocks were back to there original message honoring Clark. Oak Ridge athletic director Steve White said the rock was repainted by students from both Oak Ridge and Folsom. He also said Folsom’s football team offered to help repaint the rock.
“The painting of the rock by a few people who can’t understand the importance of remembering and honoring a coach, father and husband who touched so many lives in a positive way only gave our two schools an opportunity work together,” White said. “In many cases, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch. Not this time!”
It’s not clear who painted over the rock in the first place. The rocks have a long history of being painted, frequently within a few hours. This summer, a flap was raised when the rocks were painted to honor slain Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan, then painted with LGBT pride flags.
Folsom principal Howard Cadenhead denounced the repainting of the rocks in an email to The Bee on Friday afternoon.
“We are saddened by the disrespect that an individual or individuals demonstrated by painting over the memorial to Coach Clark,” Cadenhead said. “The loss of an outstanding family man, community member and coach transcends high school athletics and any rivalry. It is disappointing to think that any individual does not share our community’s priorities. Regardless of the outcome of any game, our thoughts are and will continue to be with Coach Clark’s family and the Oakridge community. We look forward to standing in solidarity as our staff, coaches, and students wear black alongside the Oak Ridge Community.”
A Folsom High fan account also tweeted support for Clark and the El Dorado Hills community.
“The vandalism that happened earlier is not a direct reflection of our school, our students or our team. We are all Clark Strong tonight,” the tweet said.
Oak Ridge will host Folsom tonight at 7 and the school will honor Clark with black shirts worn by coaches and fans alike. There is also a scholarship fund set in place in Clark’s name. His wife and two kids will be honored prior to kickoff.
“Clark strong for us is more than just football,” Welch said. “It’s just heartbreaking all around. Jason was a great man.”