A historic homecoming for BHS

7th consecutive homecoming victory is preceded by stirring patriotic display that captivated the nation

A historic homecoming for BHSBy CHASE CRACRAFT, News Review Correspondent

Last Friday’s Burroughs High School Homecoming festivities made banner headlines, not only for its queen-crowning pageantry and 20-17 victory over the Oak Hills Bulldogs, but for a patriotic pre-game ceremony that brought fans to their feet and the Internet to attention.

The night began with the annual coronation of the Burroughs High School Homecoming Queen. After the grand entrance of all top ten finalists including Top Three Maisy Ball, Mya Morales, and Lesly Tejeda, last year’s Homecoming queen Madison Lilly crowned Tejeda as her successor. While Tejeda and the other court members prepared to enjoy the game, Morales made a quick run to the locker room to change out of her coronation dress and into her helmet and pads to get ready to kick for the Burros as they faced off against the Bulldogs.

Normally the game would start after the playing of the national anthem, but this night was a little different. As anyone with an Internet connection has likely seen by now, the Burros put on a dramatic show of patriotism with all players walking out onto the field carrying an American flag, as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” echoed out of the stadium’s PA system and across the High Sierras. The moment was captured by spectator Tina Maria Haugen and posted to Facebook. Since then, the Burros’ patriotic gesture has received national attention, as the video has gone viral (approaching 7 million views at press time).

“Our main reason for doing this was truly just to show our love for our country,” said Head Football Coach Todd Mather. “We feel that the one and only time we are united as a country is during our national anthem. Everybody, no matter what team they are rooting for or what their beliefs are about other issues, should all agree that we live in the greatest country on earth and should show our respect for that by standing all together for our nation’s national anthem.”

After Greenwood’s song came to an end, the BHS Marching Band played the national anthem, and the crowd was again in awe as two F-18 fighter pilots from the VX-9 squadron flew over the stadium.

Once the ceremonial excitement came to a close, the then 5-2 Burros were ready to take on their 4-3 opponents. The Bulldogs started the game off with the ball, but they quickly turned it over to the Burros after senior Brock Mather blocked the punt, giving the Burros the ball at Oak Hills’ thirty-two yard line. The Burros took the lead when senior Antonio Ramirez crossed the goal line, making the score 7-0 with 7:13 remaining in the first quarter.

The Burros struck again when junior Bryson Pippin ran a 38-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown, furthering the lead to 14-0. The Bulldogs answered in the second quarter when Pippin fumbled the ball into the Burros’ own endzone and the Bulldogs recovered it for a touchdown with 7:57 remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs scored again with 1:34 remaining in the second quarter, tying the game at 14-all.

The Burros scored first in the second half when senior Ryan Arlow kicked a field goal, putting the Burros up 17-14. Arlow later drilled another field goal from about 32 yards out to extend the Burros’ lead by six with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs answered Arlow’s kicks with a field goal of their own, making the game 20-17. The Burros clutched up on defense in the latter part of the fourth quarter, when they forced a fumble and recovered it. At this moment the team knew they had achieved a truly memorable victory, winning their 2017 Homecoming game 20-17.

This was Coach Mather’s seventh consecutive Homecoming win, one that has no doubt made an impression on players and fans alike.

Mather said he likes to schedule a tough opponent for Homecoming night to avoid a blow out where people leave at half-time.

“I want to show off my product, and I feel like I finally got the chance,” he said.

Mather is firm in his belief that the pre-game display had an impact on the post-game scoreboard.

“We came out on fire just from the feeling from the love and support from our great community in the stands,” said Mather.

“There are studies about teams that take a knee and teams that stand for the national anthem. The results are astounding. The studies show that the psychological part of the brain that thinks negatively about things turns off the part of the brain that allows you to concentrate and do your job correctly. So we knew this positive pre-game routine would have a tremendous effect on how our players would play.”

Like Mather, Principal Bryan Auld has been busily responding to media requests and emails from the public regarding Friday’s spectacle. While he said he was aware of Mather’s plans for a patriotic display, he said he was taken by surprise at the public’s reaction.

“I don’t know how something goes viral and I guess I still don’t really know how this went viral,” said Auld. “I did not think of this as something that is significantly different from what we have done in the past. We have patriotic events frequently. Therefore, I did not anticipate the attention. I am shocked.”

He pointed out that at the last home game before Homecoming, cheerleaders all held American flags as part of the Military and First Responder Appreciation Night.

“I did not feel as if this was something that was completely unusual for our school and community.”

The Burros return to Sherman E. Burroughs Stadium Friday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. against Sultana High School.

Pictured: Burroughs High School Varsity Football players enter the stadium carrying American Flags to a musical backdrop of “God Bless the USA.”?Video images captured by parents, as well as News Review photos, were picked up by national media outlets. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-10-27