A solemn silence fell over the football field at Sachem High School North Friday before the start of the school’s homecoming game.
The Sachem North varsity football team and its opponent, Brentwood High School, knelt on the turf in honor of four slain Brentwood teens who police last month said were the apparent victims of gang violence.
As part of a joint decision by Sachem North’s faculty, the school wanted to do something to let Brentwood know they were being supported during this difficult time.
“We’ve always been great rivals with Brentwood,” said Christopher Fasano, a senior at Sachem North and defensive lineman, said when talking about the show of solidarity. “To hear about the tragedy that happened, our heart goes out to them, and we wanted to give them that respect.”
The football team and varsity cheerleading team also wore green armbands, one of Brentwood’s school colors.
Before the game began, physical education teacher Tom Mullee spoke on behalf of the Sachem North School District, verbalizing the school’s support of Brentwood.
“The Brentwood School District thanks the Sachem School District along with the Sachem High School [North] football team for their acts of kindness and prayers towards the families whom were impacted by these devastating tragedies,” said Felix Adeyeye, a representative of the Brentwood School District. “Their show of support speaks highly of the administration, student body and community.”
After the game, both teams took a knee again to award a football player from each school as MVP of the game, a tradition they have shared since 1996. The awards are given out in honor of Richard “Spider” Westervelt, a former Sachem teacher and the “voice of Sachem football” who had ties to Brentwood and died in 1995.
This year, the MVPs were Courtney Williams from Sachem North and Kyle Niher from Brentwood. It fittingly gave the teams a chance to share another moment of unity.
Sachem North vice principal Colleen Flanagan-Smith said, “We’re here for them and we are supporting their community.”