Happy Homecoming by Jason Muhammad

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Monroe Coach Jason Muhammad with 1987 jersey from Varsity football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus. And when Bob Matthews covered the 1970 championship season

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from Varsity football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus. And when Bob Matthews covered the 1970 championship season

A few weeks ago, in Varsity football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus. And when Bob Matthews covered the 1970 championship season we reported on the comeback of the Redjackets.

Today, Monroe’s Coach Jason Muhammad kindly shares his thoughts and reflections on what took place this past weekend.

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from the 1987 Monroe Yearbook

Happy Homecoming by Jason Muhammad

Last weekend, James Monroe High School won its first Varsity Football Game in over 30 years.

It was Homecoming. The first Homecoming Game in over 30 years.

Ironically enough, we played against Edison Tech, the school that Monroe students have had to play with for the past three decades if they wanted to play football.

So all our students have known of the concept of Homecoming is from passing conversations from friends that attend other schools. Or perhaps the invitation extended to those who did play with Edison when that school hosted their own homecoming activities.

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Monroe in action during the 1970 championship season, Democrat and Chronicle

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When Monroe won its last city title, 11/15/70, Democrat and Chronicle

Think over that. Decades of high school students passing through the halls of their school, with no understanding of the concept of Homecoming.  Knowing nothing of the dances; the parades; the kings and queens; the bonfires; the breakfasts and alumni luncheons; the pep rallies; the face painting and the pom-poms; the seat cushions and jugs with the pennies; the apple cider at the concession stands, and the raffle tickets sold by the cheerleaders…

But now, this was the MONROE Homecoming!  Students in the building were a little unsure of what it all meant, because it was all so new and unfamiliar.  “What do we DO?”  “What is it FOR?”

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from the 1987 Monroe Yearbook

So we taught them. Students made posters.  They decorated their homerooms, and the hallways.  They wore Monroe Football t-shirts.  They celebrated their school on social media.  They made plans for the game on Saturday, and for the upcoming dance.

But what drove the point home is when Mr. Ian Canter showed up…

Mr. Kantor walked onto the sideline during halftime of the football game with his young son. He approached me with an extended hand and a cell phone.

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Democrat and Chronicle, June 24th, 2014

“I was on the last Varsity Football Team that Monroe had back in the 80’s,” he said as we shook hands. “That’s me – the white guy in the back.”   And he pointed to a picture on his phone.  It was the photo of Monroe’s the last Varsity Football Team.  It was his screen saver.

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1987 James Monroe High School Yearbook from from Varsity football returning to Monroe after 30 year hiatus. And when Bob Matthews covered the 1970 championship season

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from the 1987 Monroe Yearbook

“I drove up from New York City,” he said. “And I brought my son.  I’ve waited 30 years to be able to attend this game!  It’s great!”

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Vintage ’87 Monroe football helmet [Photo provided by Jason ]

I told him to stay on the sideline for the rest of the game, and his son became the water boy.

We won the game on a fantastic pass and catch with very little time on the clock, and everyone went crazy. After the game, as the team huddled up, I invited Mr. Kantor to join us and address the Team, informing them of who he was and why he was there.

“This is special,” he said. “I’m still close with those guys I played with.  This team is special!  You’ll remember this Team and this Time for the rest of your lives!”

SEE ALSO

Pygmies of ’69 remain Brighton’s last undefeated football team

New Team in Town: Roc City Steelers debut at Buckland Park

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