In high school football, the old traditions of the game last… and last… and last. The season saves one of the best of these for the end: Senior Night. As the name implies, Senior Night revolves around the school’s seniors, who have (in most cases) worked their way through the program for four years on the road to graduation. Schools schedule Senior Night for the final regular-season home game of the season. In addition to the off-field spectacle, the event also impacts the action between the sidelines. Traditionally, every senior on the team gets a chance, no matter how trivial, to take the field at some point during Senior Night. This one night of the year turns even a third-string senior guard into the star of the show.
Schools observe Senior Night in different ways. At many schools, seniors are honored during the halftime interval, which frequently runs longer than the scheduled 20 minutes as a consequence. Yulee High School, in Nassau County, handles matters a bit differently. Starting about 45 minutes before game time, all seniors related in any way to the football program – those on the team, among the cheerleaders, or in the band – enter the field accompanied by their parents, walking from the far sideline and lining up across the field between the 20-yard lines. For players and fans in this small town, the ceremony highlights the near-ritual observance that surrounds Friday nights on the football field.
On this occasion, though, Senior Night didn’t end happily for the home crowd. In an important District 3-5A contest near the close of the season, Yulee ran into a buzzsaw in district leader Bishop Kenny and athletic superstar Charles Wade. A wide receiver on offense and a linebacker on defense, Wade has dominated opponents all season. In this game, Wade scored on Bishop Kenny’s first two plays of the game, a 75-yard pass down the right sideline and an 83-yard reverse. Keyed by Wade’s heroics, the Crusaders went on to top Yulee 34-7, as recorded in the Florida Times-Union’s report.