Fresh off their most successful football season in school history the Harker Heights Knights celebrated four of its star senior players during a signing ceremony Tuesday in the school auditorium.
Running back Re’Shaun Sanford committed to the University of Houston.
Offensive lineman Jaydon Chatman is headed to the University of Texas.
Offensive lineman Etueni Ropati is going to the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Defensive back Deaubry Hood is going on to Arkansas State University.
Knights’ Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach Jerry Edwards praised the four, all among the senior anchors of a history-making team.
Last year’s Knights finished 9-1, ending their season in the first round of the playoffs. This year, the team ended 12-2, advancing to the fourth-round, state quarterfinals.
They accumulated the most wins in Knights’ history, and advanced further than ever before.
The four who signed with Division I NCAA programs are “at the forefront” of a senior class that helped usher in a new era in Knights football, Edwards explained.
These seniors have only known playoff years, as Harker Heights has made the post season the past four years.
“When expectations are high, keeping that level week after week is difficult,” he said. “They embraced the pressure. I’m super proud of them.”
Last week, Sanford was named the MVP of District 12-6A for the second year in a row. He holds every rushing record for Harker Heights High School and is the top rusher in KISD history.
Both Chatman and Ropati are on this year’s All-District roster, Chatman on the first team and Ropati on the second team, both as offensive tackles. Hood is first team All-District as a cornerback.
Last spring, Sanford was named to the Whataburger Super Team, one of 40 high school football players in the state to receive the honor.
Edwards called him one of the greatest football players to ever come out of Central Texas. He praised him as a humble athlete, quick to celebrate the accomplishments of others and one of the most coachable players he has known.
Sanford rushed for 6,467 yards in high school. His coach said he would be remembered as a legend.
Edwards called Hood one of the fastest men in Texas. The cornerback has 10.3 speed in the 100 meters, making him a constant danger to opposing offenses.
Hood holds the school record for interceptions with eight. This season, against Midway, he ran back an interception from deep in the end zone, 109 yards for a touchdown.
All four said the ceremony was a milestone moment culminating years of dreaming and working together, going back to youth football, and continuing to the middle school and high school levels.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Sanford. “I’ve dreamed of this day, and it’s even more than I expected. I felt the love and the support. I’m living out a dream.”
“This is something we’ve talked about since we were kids,” he said. “We’ve grown up together. We’re brothers. These are elite players, and we’ve built a bond together.”
“It feels good,” said Chatman, who is graduating this month and will report to the University of Texas in January. “I’ve been working my whole life for this moment. It’s a huge achievement.”
“It feels good,” said Hood. “It’s a weight off my shoulders. We all went to middle school together and it’s cool we’re going to the next level.”
“It feels good,” said Ropati, now headed to UTSA. “I give the glory to God. I’ll remember the support of my family and coaches. I love it here. I love seeing my brothers succeed.”