Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

El Paso-Plano Football Game Highlights Unity Over Fear

The two teams -- El Paso in blue and white, Plano in maroon -- shared the field at the beginning of the game.
The two teams -- El Paso in blue and white, Plano in maroon -- shared the field at the beginning of the game.

The Plano Senior High Wildcats played the Eastwood High Troopers in Frisco Thursday night, but it was anything but a normal game. It was a night filled with symbolic acts of unity.

Players from the two teams stood together on the field before the game began — maroon Plano jerseys interspersed with Eastwood’s white and blue. A moment of silence was observed for the shooting victims in El Paso.

A month ago, a man from these suburbs north of Dallas — and graduate of Plano Senior High — allegedly drove 10 hours across Texas to El Paso to commit an act of hate. This week, an El Paso high school sent its football team, marching band, drill team, cheerleaders and parents to North Texas.

Richard Hernandez Jr. made the trek with his family. His daughter plays trumpet in the band.

Credit Christopher Connelly / KERA News

"It means that everybody can come together, show that there’s no hard feelings, no bad feelings, bring everybody, unite everybody together," Hernandez said. "Whether we win or lose, it makes no difference."

During the halftime show, bands from both high schools took to the field to play the Eastwood fight song. They’d learned to play it together earlier in the day.

This game almost didn’t happen.

Plano ISD cancelled it after the shooting, citing security concerns. But after an outcry, the game was back on and moved to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice field in Frisco.

El Paso City Council member Henry Rivera says cancelling didn’t feel right.

"Our kids were victimized once. I saw them as victimized a second time," Rivera said. "So I just felt this game had to be played. It had to be played."

Plano won the football game, 43 to 28.

But it was more than just a game — it was a chance to show unity and defy those who would sow hate and fear.

Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Christopher Connelly is a KERA reporter based in Fort Worth. Christopher joined KERA after a year and a half covering the Maryland legislature for WYPR, the NPR member station in Baltimore. Before that, he was a Joan B. Kroc Fellow at NPR – one of three post-graduates who spend a year working as a reporter, show producer and digital producer at network HQ in Washington, D.C.