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Sugar House Journal

Community Unites to Support Football Team

Aug 29, 2016 15h26 ● By Travis Barton

Cheerleaders and the Pep Club cheer on the Highland High football team during their annual Black and White game on Aug. 12. –Travis Barton

As school prepared to kick off, so did the football season.
One week before their first game of the season, Highland High football team held its annual Black and White game on Aug. 12. The team scrimmage serves as a fundraiser for the football team and an event for the community to come together.
“We’re just trying to raise money for the program to help some of these kids, to help with equipment and everything else,” Jason Boren said. Boren has a son on the team and helped organize the event. 
Among the night’s festivities—besides the football games —were silent and live auctions, games for the kids and satisfying food. All proceeds went to funding the football team.
Head coach Brody Benson said he estimates outfitting each player’s uniform costs over $900 so events like this were key for his team. Over 50 percent of the team is fee waived, meaning players come from low-income families.
“It is very expensive to run a football program…so we look to the community to ask for your support both monetarily and every Friday night, we have a great group of young men,” Benson told the crowd at halftime.
Benson said the team carries a 3.5 grade point average with its 93 players. Over the past 11 years, the program has a 100 percent graduation rate and has never had a player not be able to accept a college scholarship based on academics.
“That is a tribute to this program, this school, the administration and teachers here at Highland High,” Benson said.
The fundraiser used to be held in the spring but with the new field being laid in 2015, it was decided to hold the event in conjunction with the annual Black and White game.
Boren, whose son, Jake, plays on the team, said the program has great parent support and it’s those parents who organize the event preparing the food and seeking out donations whether it be cash or in-kind donations. The in-kind donations were sold during the auctions.
The silent auction had such donated items as signed helmets from NFL players like Haloti Ngata, Sione Houma and Nate Orchard, all of whom graduated from Highland. Other items included a night’s stay at the Grand America Hotel, a signed Jazz ball and a month’s membership to Corepower Yoga.
The live auction included a grill, a treadmill, a one-week vacation rental at a house in St. George and another vacation rental at a Newport Beach House in California.
Ryan Creamer won the weeks’ vacation to Newport with a $2,600 bid. Creamer has five neighbors on the football team and said it was great he could come out and support them.
As much as the event benefited the football program, Boren said they also wanted it to unite the community.
“We wanted to have more of a sense of community, we’ve got parents from the west side and the east side. It’s nice to bring everyone together,” said Boren, who played football at East High.
Principal Chris Jenson echoed those sentiments. Jenson said high schools can have an impact on the community rather than simply be a reflection.
“We can be a unifying factor in a broader sense than just our school,” Jenson said. “Everything that’s going on in this world, we need a little healing and I think the school can be helpful in that.”