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Sometimes It Just Happens
Marg's Mug.jpg

So … how was your Friday the 13th?

Any black cats cross your path? Did you tempt fate by walking under a ladder?

We tend to break out all the superstitions when one of those dreaded combinations of Friday and the 13th of the month collide. This past Friday, it was a true triple whammy, as a full moon – the harvest moon – got thrown into the mix.

I am not big on superstition; I find other people’s reactions to the supposed ‘bad mojo’ of any Friday the 13th to be more interesting than the day itself. I don’t remember anything bad happening to me on such a day; and, in fact, bad things don’t need a special date on the calendar to strike.

But it is amazing how quickly things can turn around – good or bad. And in this case, it was certainly bad luck, whether it was due to Friday the 13th or not, when our Oakdale sports reporter, Dennis Cruz, got taken out while he was on the sidelines covering freshman football on Friday afternoon. There were three games scheduled at home, as the opponent from Salinas opted to send all three of their teams to The Corral for a full night of competition. For Dennis, it was a short night on the gridiron, as he was injured and had to be taken off the field via ambulance.

Ironically, when he was getting ready to leave the office to go to the field, I suggested he wait a little while, since there were three games.

I told him he didn’t need to be there for freshman kickoff, there would be plenty of time and opportunity for photos, even if he got to the freshman game at halftime. After all, three games in one night is more than enough football for anyone. But, he argued, something exciting or even crazy and unexpected could happen on kickoff or in the first half, and he would hate to miss it.

So, off he went. And not too much later, off he went to the hospital.

His road to recovery is going to be a long one; however the hit occurred, it did major damage.

Some people have asked why he just didn’t get out of the way and while that is a valid question, I will tell you that it isn’t always possible. Stay in this business long enough and you’re going to get nailed in some way, shape or form. For Dennis, the injury was pretty severe and I guarantee you if he had been able to get out of the way of that football player, he would have. High school players give it their all; they go full force and if you happen to be in the way, well, sometimes these things just happen. Friday the 13th or not.

Many years ago, covering an Escalon football game, I was photographing a Cougar player returning a punt. I was focused on him and didn’t see some players on the other side of the field heading my way. The player that was being pursued got out of the way of a potential tackle … but I didn’t. Never even saw it coming; all of a sudden I was not on the football sidelines but on my back a few feet away from where I had been standing just moments before.

Nothing was broken but I did have a badly bruised shoulder; it still gives me trouble in damp weather.

There isn’t always time to react and, if you are focused elsewhere on the field, you can be blindsided.

We’re a small, tight knit group here and losing Dennis until he is well enough to get back in the line-up is sure to leave a huge gap; not just in the paper, but more importantly, in the office, where we are more like a family than a staff. General Manager Drew Savage and I headed over to the football field as soon as we learned that Dennis had been hurt. Let’s just say the entire office was shaken by the incident; and we want our guy (literally) back on his feet and feeling better soon.

Plus I want Dennis to listen to me next time I tell him not to go to kickoff.


Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.