It was an emotional night for William Chrisman running back Jaden Thomas on Senior Night.
It wasn’t because it was one of his last games playing on Norman James Field or because of the fact it was Senior Night.
When he scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dawson Herl, Thomas couldn’t hold back his emotions.
He teared up because he was thinking of a friend he used to go to school with at the now defunct Archbishop O’Hara High School. He wore white arm sleeve where he wrote “R.I.P. Mack,” in honor of his friend, Makayla Brooks, who was killed in her home in Raytown Friday morning. She was supposed to come watch Thomas play in Friday’s game against Ruskin.
“She was killed this morning and she meant a lot to me,” Thomas said. “That’s why I have ‘R.I.P. Mack’ on my arm sleeve. Tonight was pretty special to me.
“The guys gathered around me and made sure I was OK, and they were there for me. Just like brothers should be.”
Thomas got to celebrate with his brothers after an emotionally charged 52-6 win over the Ruskin Eagles at Independence All-School Stadium.
It’s been a season where members of the Chrisman football team have lost the ones they love. And the Bears have been there to support those have gone through that heartbreak.
“Coach (Jeff) Myers lost his mom earlier this week,” Chrisman senior lineman David Toese said. “One of our offensive linemen lost their dog. We’ve had a lot of losses.”
Through all of the heartache, the Bears were able to celebrate a feel-good moment following the Suburban Middle Seven Conference win. Two signs were held up for junior lineman Isaiah McFall. He asked his girlfriend out to the homecoming dance as he celebrated five months together with her. McFall, Toese and three other players of Polynesian heritage began to perform a war dance called “the Haka,” which includes a chanting and slapping the thighs with both hands.
“The Haka that we did was not only for the homecoming celebration, it was the honor those that we lost. It just so much to Polynesians like us.”
Even with lost ones on the minds of Chrisman, it came to play against the Eagles. The Bears (3-4, 2-2 Middle Seven) went into halftime up 52-0, prompting a running clock for the entire second half.
Thomas was a big part of that. He had a 14-yard TD run to go along with his reception for a score. He said he hasn’t played much in the last three weeks, but was able to redeem himself in this one.
“I am two weeks behind, but this was a nice bounce-back game for me,” Thomas said. “I definitely have to earn my spot back and regain the trust of my teammates and everything. Same thing for the coaches.”
Herl, who completed 11 of 13 passes for 234 yards and four TDs, noted that Thomas is confident as a pass catcher.
“He always says he’s the best route runner out here,” Herl said with a smirk. “He’s saying that he can break anyone down. It looked like he did that time.”
Chrisman coach Matthew Perry said it wasn’t a surprise for him to see the 5-foot-7 Thomas score on a reception.
“We kind of moved him to wide receiver a little bit because we’ve went to a platoon,” Perry said. “He’s got great hands, so it’s good to use him that way.”
Senior Bryan Cox totaled 91 yards receiving and a score and he also had a 3-yard rushing touchdown, senior Tre’Vaughn Sisco had a 40-yard rushing score and had 34 yards receiving and a TD, senior Kelyn Mason had a blocked punt and a 52-yard TD reception and sophomore Alex Atagi had a fumble recovery and a blocked punt returned for a TD.
“It was a great night for our seniors. They took care of business like they were supposed to,” Perry said.