October 11, 2006 - There are but few days during the year that strike terror into the hearts of men.
Halloween has caused some frights, so has Valentine's Day. But fearing ghosts and commitment pale in comparison to taking chances with your luck.
Enter Friday the 13th - a day where many don't even leave the house out of fear of pressing their luck. These people suffer from Paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th.
The football programs of Canyon Del Oro and Marana high schools will be leaving their houses on the 13th and looking to dole out a macabre massacre of football proportions when the Class 4A Sonoran Region rivals meet in Oro Valley.
"I heard they're talking a lot about us," said CDO wide receiver Nick Ziegler, trying his best not to give the Tigers any bulletin board material. Despite his humble approach, Ziegler is quick to point out that the Dorados beat Marana 46-0 (during the Tiger's homecoming) last year en route to a state playoff berth.
But what a difference a year makes. Last year's throttling at the hands of CDO dropped Marana under .500, a mark the Tigers barely clawed their way back to by season's end.
This year, the Tigers (4-2, 0-1 Sonoran) are playing with an offense capable of big plays and a renewed sense of emotional firepower - both of which they'll need to face CDO (5-1, 1-0).
"We just got to come out and hit them hard," said Marana linebacker Garrett McGee.
Ziegler and McGee are bound by more than the desire to beat each other on Friday the 13th. Both players - Ziegler a senior, McGee a junior - don't fear anything on the football field and openly scoff at the very question. What kind of football players would they be if they had any kind of apprehension of stepping onto the gridiron? Not ones who proudly wear the inauspicious integer of No. 13, that's for sure.
Ziegler isn't afraid to cut across the middle where players such as McGee (one sack, one fumble recovery on the year) tend to roam in search of the big hit. For that, the CDO senior thanks his quarterback, Daniel Nicholas, who has gotten the ball to him eight times for 184-yards and three touchdowns.
You certainly can't accuse Ziegler or McGee of suffering from Paraskevidekatriaphobia. But you can accuse them of being superstitious, though.
"I'm definitely superstitious," said Ziegler. "I have the same schedule on Fridays that I've had since last year: school (same schedule structure), eat (chicken at KFC), drink (Powerade), everything."
McGee has ulterior motivations for being pumped up for the Friday showdown. Like Thomas Jefferson, Fidel Castro, Mary Kate & Ashley Olson and, of course, Jason Vorhees (killer from Friday the 13th movies), McGee was born on Friday the 13th.
He's certainly better off than Tupac Shakur and Benny Goodman, who met their demise on this supposedly harrowing day.
"It's my birthday and I want to hit somebody," said McGee, who was born in October of 1989, the same year and day "Jason Takes Manhattan" was released. "That'd be the greatest birthday present."
But should Ziegler and McGee be concerned about their chosen baker's dozen of digits? Many hotels and tall office buildings don't have a 13th floor out of superstition and there isn't one player in the baseball hall of fame that donned No. 13 during his playing days. Currently, the most recognizable player in pro sports with the No. 13 is the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez and nobody wants his luck these days.
Perhaps it's fitting that Ziegler wears No. 13. Thirteen is the atomic weight of aluminum, the same material baseball bats are made from. Last spring, also wearing No. 13, Ziegler slugged a single-season school record 17 homeruns.
"I like that actually," said Ziegler of the unlucky connotation that No. 13 inspires. "I work off of that."
There won't be a full moon - that happened last Friday - but the air should be right for revenge this Friday the 13th in Oro Valley. Like his fellow birthday-brother Jason, McGee has some retribution of his own on his mind for the Dorados.
"My birthday is Oct. 13 and so I'm going to get payback," said McGee of last year's blowout loss. The Marana junior isn't necessarily a vengeful person but he does plan on transforming into some sort of pigskin punisher against CDO.
It's a good thing Friday the 13th won't roll around again until April of 2007.