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Defeat Can’t Dampen Homecoming Spirits 

Hills East and Commack in the trenches.

Homecoming is synonymous with community, royalty, and good football. In Half Hollow Hills High School East’s case, two for three isn’t bad, right?

Hundreds of family members, friends and fans came out Saturday morning for Hills East’s annual homecoming parade and game, watching and cheering as the school’s band, cheerleaders and homecoming court marched by them to the football field. When the parade finally reached the turf, everyone took their seats in the bleachers as the homecoming court was announced. The group of hopeful students stood on the field in suits and dresses smiling up at the full bleachers. Although the king and queen would be announced later, the crowd could feel the fun and joy those students were experiencing.

As the homecoming court started to leave the field, the varsity football team slowly made their way to the turf as they prepared to take on the Commack Cougars. The game started off well, as both teams went scoreless through the first quarter, but the Hills East Thunderbirds started to go downhill in the second quarter. Commack scored on two rushing touchdowns while Hills East was held to nothing.

As both teams regrouped during halftime, the fans were given a great performance by Hills East’s marching band, kickline and cheerleaders.

“The cheerleaders put on an incredible performance,” Hills East alumnus Sam Mele said. “Kickline was incredible, and their routine never fails to leave the crowd stunned. The band was incredible, too.”

After halftime, the crowd was reinvigorated when Kamal Williams returned the second-half kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The crowd went crazy, cheering and yelling in hopes of a come-from-behind win. Those chances were quickly diminished, however, when Commack scored another 2 touchdowns in the third quarter and one final touchdown in the fourth quarter, defeating the Thunderbirds 35-7. A big problem for the Thunderbirds in the game was several interceptions and turnovers, giving the Cougars more opportunities to score.

Although one might think the crushing defeat would have dampened the spirit of the fans, that’s not what happened at Hills East that morning. Even while things looked dark for the Thunderbirds, the bleachers remained full and roaring for the whole game.

That’s what Principal Jeffery Woodberry said makes homecoming different from any other football game.

“Community, family, students and alumni all came out to support East today. It’s great, and they gave a big boost to the players,” Woodberry said.

Then came the moment many were waiting for: Who would be named homecoming king and queen? The titles went to varsity basketball star Matt Boyd and singer Lisa Diasparra, giving Hills East a great start to the school year.

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