Most Oregon Ducks fans aren't speaking up.
Most Oregon Ducks fans spent the pregame walking around the parking lot of Reser Stadium in groups. No one traveled alone. Most Oregon Ducks fans kept a low profile.
It's funny. The Oregon–Oregon State rivalry is about the friendliest in the country—yet, even though friends and family share drinks and stories before the game, the visiting fans still seem to walk around looking over their shoulders.
“No comment,” was about as far as most would go when asked about the game. About a dozen attempted interviews later, one group of Duck fans didn't mind making a statement.
In more than one way.
One Beaver fan pointed them out, “Did you see that one van, with the huge duck?”
That one van was home to a couple of Duck fans that were happy to be at another game.
“We've been coming to Civil War games for about 15 years,” Steve Cartales said. “Right, Eddie?”
“I'd say our favorite game was three years ago,” Cartales said. “[During the game] the fog came in and Jonathan Stewart had a huge game. And of course, the Ducks won.”
The group had a van that was parked on the Southwest side of Reser Stadium. In a parking lot full of Oregon State students, alumni, and fans, they stood out like a sore thumb. They wouldn't reveal how they got such a great space, but they were getting some looks.
For good reason—the van was dark green with a yellow interior, and featured a giant blowup Duck replica set on the top. With flags flying, to boot.
They were a brave group. They were a green oasis in a sea of Orange. It wasn't a tailgater it was like a throwback to the flaggers of the Conforsols. They weren't fans—they were targets.
It's a dangerous job, but someone has to do it.
They huddled around a green van covered in Duck paraphernalia, every inch dressed in green and yellow. From duck magnets on the hood to bright yellow seat covers—for all of the seats in the 12-passenger van.
“Our company owns the van,” Cartales said. “We use it to shuttle workers from job site to job site during the week. But in the fall, we decided, 'Well it's the right colors, we're all Duck fans, why not turn it into something that we could use on Saturdays?'”
The van isn’t a fixed vehicle, though. It gets upgrades every year.
“We add new stuff every year,” Cartales said. “The grill, the sound system, the flagpoles—every year it's something new.”
They aren't done, though. They're almost a mirror image of the team they love, flashy and proud.
“Next year we're talking about new artwork on the back, and some AstroTurf.”
And everyone is invited.
“I have friends on both sides. We're a friendly group. We don't discriminate,” Cartales said. “Before the game and after the game.”
Although they are in un-friendly territory, there isn’t any bad blood. Sure, the occasional “Ducks Suck” will be shouted, but it’s all in good fun.
As Cartales said, “At the end of the day, it’s just a game. We’re here to have fun and enjoy each other’s company.”