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.
"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.