Knights' Storybook Season Comes to End

Football playersThe Harker Heights Knights’ storybook season ended Friday in the state quarterfinals against the football powerhouse DeSoto Eagles at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium in Waco.
The Knights made the deepest playoff run in school history and stand among Killeen ISD’s most successful football teams ever.
The Eagles beat the Knights 60 to 24 to advance to the state semifinals and a chance for a spot in the 6A, Division II state championship. They will face the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup between Denton Guyer and Southlake Carroll.
In an emotional charge following the game, Harker Heights Coach Jerry Edwards praised his team for setting a new standard of excellence for Knights football.
“You have done what no one has ever done before who wore the red and black,” he said. “You can hold your head high.”
The Knights rallied a community, ignited a new level of school spirit and returned Killeen ISD football to a level of excellence not seen in more than a decade.

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The Knights’ coach acknowledged that the team wanted more but emphasized that they would remember fondly the experience of going deeper into the playoffs than any Harker Heights team, setting a new standard.
Harker Heights High School Principal Jorge Soldevila was in his customary place on the sidelines, encouraging the student spirit groups and interacting with the active student section.
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The Knights’ success has brought a new climate of school pride to the campus.
“It’s been absolutely surreal,” said Soldevila of the deep playoff run. “They have re-written history.”
Looking into the sea of red and black in McLane Stadium, he said the large crowd of supporters is indicative of what the team accomplished. “You can look in the stands and see the impact.”
“The pride is through the roof,” he said. “We’ve always appreciated our community. We have all come together and validated what our students have done. In the classrooms, you can walk around and see the extra sense of pride.”
“I’m very thankful for Knight nation for coming out, and supporting us all year,” Edwards said. “Knight football caught fire, and everyone was super-excited. We’re glad we could bring a spark to the community.”
“These seniors leave with a 21 and 4 record,” he said of the past two football seasons. “You couldn’t ask for a better group of young men to take our program to the next level.”

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Last year’s team ended 9-2, losing to the same DeSoto team in the first round of the playoffs. This year’s team finished 12-2.
The Harker Heights cheerleaders, Crimson Belles dance team and Red Brigade Band continued throughout the playoffs to lead the cheers and urge on the team into the fourth round of playoffs.
This year’s seniors were in pre-school the last time a KISD football team reached the state quarterfinals.

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The 1991 Killeen Kangaroos are still the city’s only football state championship. The 1996 Ellison Eagles made it to the state semifinals. The 2008 Roos were the last KISD football team to reach the quarterfinals.
This year’s Knights battled to the end against an explosive Eagles’ offense and stifling defense that limited Harker Heights’ playmakers.
The Knights charged to a District 12-6A title and three convincing playoff victories on the sturdy legs of senior running back Re’Shaun Sanford.

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On Wednesday, Sanford said he and his teammates were talking about growing up in Killeen playing youth football and in middle school.
“We were just talking about that and now it’s actually happening and it’s unreal,” said Sanford, who attended Mountain View Elementary School and Union Grove Middle School before going to Harker Heights High School.
He holds every school rushing record and in last week’s regional semifinal became KISD’s all-time leading rusher.
Sanford is committed to take his athletic skill to the University of Houston.