Like every afternoon this past fall, Harker Heights head football coach Jerry Edwards, whistle in mouth, chased the action while his players sprinted up the practice field.
But this was no practice, and the players weren’t whooping and hollering up the opposing sideline for a teammate who lined up next to them on Friday nights.
Instead, they were following junior Roxanne Sonni as she raced up the right sideline for the game-winning touchdown late in the first half of the annual junior girls versus senior girls Powder Puff game.
It was the second time Sonni crossed the goal line for the juniors, who defeated the seniors 14-12 — the first time a junior team won in the three-year history of the game.
“We said we were going to win, didn’t we?” Sonni said to her coaches after the game.
Normally, football players in each respective class coach the teams.
But a surplus of seniors and a shortage of junior participants offered a glimpse of the camaraderie the game was created to foster.
Seniors Malik Jones and Korey Sloan joined juniors Steven Edwards and Joshua Ellis as coaches to help the junior team defeat their classmates.
“It was unusual,” said Kathie Thomison, student council adviser. “But they were just as proud for their juniors.”
Thomison has coordinated the game since 2012. When she saw the sense of camaraderie it created, she wanted to continue it.
“I think it’s a good idea for students to be a part of this because it’s a unique opportunity for girls to be involved,” Thomison said. “And it gives leadership opportunities for our boys to step up and kind of be leaders within our school.”
Lots of practice
And the students take it seriously, practicing for four weeks leading up to the game.
For the players, it was a chance to give out orders rather than acting on them like they do in the fall.
“They tried to treat us like football players,” Najala Shabazz said. “Especially when Josh came.”
“And you won, didn’t you?” Sloan quipped.
The players aren’t the only ones who get in on the action. A male cheer squad did choreographed cheers on the sideline, and last year, the school band even participated.
But Thomison has even bigger plans for the game.
“I want a band here all the time,” Thomison said. “I want our yell leaders — our boys spirit squad — I want a halftime performance from the boys.”
Overall participation is up, and a nice crowd gathered to watch the juniors take down the seniors.
But considering how pro-senior the crowd was, the juniors were most delighted to see them go after the game.
“Did you see?” Shabazz gloated. “How fast they got out of the stands?”