For Belton senior Denver Holman, football is, and always has been, a family affair.
Holman started playing the game in third grade alongside his cousins on a team that his uncle coached in Waco.
The reason the senior wears No. 16 is because it is the same number another uncle of his wore for the Tigers.
“I’ve always worn No. 16,” said Holman. “My uncle played here, so I always wanted to be like my uncle.”
To this day Holman has continued to play alongside family and even shared the field this season with his cousin, Tanner.
His family is so deeply rooted in his love of the game, including his pre-game ritual.
“I always pray to my aunt that passed away from breast cancer a couple weeks ago,” he said.
“And to my Papa that recently passed away this summer.”
His motivation on the field is fueled behind the pride Holman gets from being able to play in front of his community and his family at Tiger Field.
“It means a lot,” he said of representing Belton. “I’ve been here since Pre-K, I always imagined playing here, so it means everything.
“It’s very special because I used to be in those stands a couple years ago always thinking about how I’d be excited to play in front of the whole city of Belton, my family, and how I’d make them proud.”
The Tigers’ senior kick returner/receiver returned the opening kick against Waco for an 86-yard touchdown on Nov. 2, but moments before the game he was on the sideline with his nerves racing.
“Right before the game I get butterflies,” said Holman. “It happens every time.
“If you don’t get butterflies, than you might as well not play,. That’s the best part to me.”
Holman also added a 79-yard punt return touchdown and caught four passes for 64 yards in Belton’s 63-7 win.
And while he’s posted impressive stats over the season, he hopes that his teammates remember him more for his leadership and friendship off the field.
Although he played running back for most of his playing career, Holman has been inspired by Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Cole Beasley and New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman.
“Because they show that no matter how tall or big you are, you can play at any level,” Holman said.
As for those young athletes who sit in the bleachers at Tiger Field and aspire to be in his shoes one day, Holman has one piece of advice: “Never give up on your dreams and keep going, no matter what.”