Written and Media by Andres Flores.
This Greenville College homecoming football game started off with a twist this year. As the Panthers entered the field, there was no music, excitement, and no one on the field. At the last seven games, a few Greenville College players took a knee during the national anthem to protest and raise awareness for racial injustice. An unexpected number of veterans attended the game to protest the protest.
The veterans believe that taking a knee during the anthem is disrespectful to them and their friends that died fighting for our freedom. President Ivan Filby addressed the issue with the football and cheer team in the tent on the sidelines before warm-ups. He asked if the teams would be willing to stand during the national anthem to prevent controversy. Some replied with “no”. He also spoke to the veteran leaders in the community and asked them to promise that the students of GC would not be harmed. Since there was uncertainty about safety, Filby asked the teams to remain in the tent during the national anthem if they refused to stand.
Both teams were upset, but there were mixed opinions on each team as some people wanted to stand proud for their country and others wanted to kneel for their beliefs.
The Panthers started warmups 15 minutes late as they walked onto the field with their heads down. The team was sluggish during pre-game because the situation took everyone’s mind off of football. The homecoming football game became more than just a game. Especially since the news channel KSDK flew in to cover the story.
This game was supposed to highlight 22 seniors. It was the largest senior class since the 2013 team that went 9-2 and was the last time the boys could play football as a Panther. Because of the controversy, there was only a small ceremony.
As the ceremony came to an end, Andres Flores, a senior offensive lineman, bent down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Marisa Lovato, a senior cheerleader. The ceremony and proposal took the fans attention away from the controversy only for a short period. Afterward, it was back to the protest.
As the color guard walked onto the field, the group of veterans proceeded with them. The veterans were asked not to go onto the field but they denied that request. Coach Shoemaker told the football players to walk to the tent once the ceremony ended for the sake of peace. 18 players stood with a hand over their heart in front of the veterans. Once the national anthem ended, every veteran shook the hands of the football players and showed their respect.
The Panthers defeated the Martin Luther Knights 63-12 despite the external circumstances. Freshman quarterback, George Harris, threw 19-28 for 259 yards and five touchdowns along with rushing for a touchdown. Senior receiver, John Dudley, caught seven balls at 105 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Hamid Camara rushed for 148 yards with a touchdown. Senior defensive end, Lincoln Johnson, had five tackles, a sack, and three tackles for a loss of eight yards.
In the last two games, the Panthers had a total of almost 1,100 offensive yards. The Panthers had a great game and forced six turnovers throughout the competition. The Panthers need to keep these stats up as they travel to play Northwestern on October 29, at 12:00 PM.
It was an eventful start to the game, but the Panthers still triumphed.