Saturday’s rain-laden high school football game between Rogers and Shadle Park marked more than just the beginning to each team’s Greater Spokane League seasons.
For the first time in over 19 years, football returned to Hillyard as the Pirates (0-1, 0-3) hosted the Highlanders (1-0, 1-2) for their first true home game since 2002.
“There’s something special about playing games at home,” Rogers athletic director Aaron Brecek said. “When you go to those small communities and they all have their own home field and they play the Friday night lights aspect of it, I think we got to get a little bit of that today.”
If that wasn’t enough, Rogers also elected to make Saturday their official Senior Day for those on the team that belonged to the class of 2022.
“I don’t know if it was driven by the coaches or the players, but (Coach Dewey) contacted me and said, ‘Hey, we want this to be Senior Day, too,’ and I said, ‘That’s a brilliant idea.’”
“I’m glad we got to honor them here at Rogers, which was awesome. I thought our guys played a great game. I think our coaching staff did a good job.”
While the Pirates dropped the game 42-20 to the visiting Highlanders, it still meant just as much to the home-crowd who turned out despite the weather.
“I think that it would be special to have it here, even though it’s raining and freezing,” said Adonia Davis from the safety of beneath her white-and-purple umbrella.
“I know that Rogers hasn’t had a game here in a long time,” said Virla Spencer, mother of Rogers quarterback Deon Kinsey, “It’s important for us to be able to have this type of event here at Rogers, in our community.”
“Every parent does not have an opportunity to drive way out to see their kid play. … Just knowing that this is just down the street in my community, the whole community should have been here.”
Plus, there is a specific reverence and respect in the sporting world for the idea of a home game, especially during the pandemic, according to spectator Jalil Washington.
“Whether you’ve got basketball, football, baseball, a home game is very important and vital,” said Washington. “With the COVID and everything going on, it exudes some normalcy. I feel good about being here.”
At the end of the day, showing up meant persisting through hardships both in the weather and the world for the kids and the community, according to Spencer.
“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, but we still are able to be a part of witnessing this for these kids,” Spencer said. “Win or lose, it’s about community. And Rogers High School has been a part of this community for a long time.”
Brecek hopes Saturday was the start of bringing back that sense of community through a shared love for football in Hillyard.
“We’re working hard to kind of turn this program around and I’m really excited… Next year we might play all of our home games here, we’ll see how it goes.”
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