Tears were shed, hugs were shared and determination was at an all-time high in the communities of Uvalde, Texas and Oxford, Michigan last Friday.
For the first time, tragic school shootings changed the lives of these towns, and high school home football games were held at Uvalde High School and Oxford High School.
Here’s a roundup of emotional nights in every high school.
This was an ending Hollywood might not have dreamed of.
After a moving tribute, which included prayer and a 21-second minute’s silence in honor of the 21 victims killed during the tragedy at Robb Elementary School on May 24, Uvalde started his game against Eagle Pass Winn.
Then, at the 28-28 mark towards the end of the fourth quarter, something happened that shook the stadium so much it felt like an earthquake.
Running back Jonathan Jimenez picked up a handoff and was about to be tackled when he headed for the left touchline in what seemed like an innocent-looking play.
Uvalde head coach Wade Miller told KSAT after the game that he was just trying to time out to go into overtime.
But Jimenez then spun away from a tackler, reversed his direction, sliced all the way across the field and then launched the right touchline for a 51-yard run to Eagle Pass Winn’s 9-yard line by 17 seconds Ending.
The Uvalde fans in the stands went berserk, but as it turned out, they were just getting warmed up.
On the next play, wideout Devon Franklin snagged a one-handed touchdown pass from quarterback Brodie Carnes into the corner of the end zone in what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in a 34-28 win over Uvalde.
When Uvalde ended the game with a sack, fans in the stands erupted in cheers and players jumped up and down the sidelines in celebration before shaking hands with opposing players.
The team then went over to give high fives to their fans, who cheered them on in the stands.
It was the 600th win in the program’s history, but more importantly, it brought smiles and joy to the community.
“That’s exactly what this down needed,” Uvalde senior Justin Rendon told KSAT afterwards. “I just needed this win.”
Just days before Oxford’s first home game on September 2, it had been 10 months since the Oxford High School shooting that killed four students and injured 11 others.
But as in the past 10 months, the Oxford community has continued to show why they are ‘Oxford Strong’.
In a pregame ceremony, the four students were honored in a video tribute and a minute’s silence was observed.
A tribute video was also shown for Tate Myre, one of the slain students who captained last year’s team as a junior and would be the team’s top player and leader this year.
Myres No. 42 was painted in several spots on and around Oxford’s field and his family, including his father Buck, an assistant coach on that year’s team, took part in the pre-game coin toss.
After fighting back tears during the video tribute to his son, Buck Myre went into game mode and fired into the crowd before kick-off.
Oxford eventually won 17-14 and the students stormed the field to celebrate with the players on the field when it was all over.
So Buck Myre spoke to the team afterwards to say, “There’s nothing like Friday night lights.”
On this night, when a community continues to heal, no one could disagree.