The Kamiak football team spent the past two weeks preparing for its season-opening game against Bishop Blanchet. But the Knights constantly had something else on their minds. Jacob Long, Jordan Ebner and Anna Bui.
EVERETT — The Kamiak football team spent the past two weeks preparing for its season-opening game against Bishop Blanchet. But the Knights constantly had something else on their minds.
Jacob Long, Jordan Ebner and Anna Bui.
The Kamiak High School administration, at the recommendation of a Kamiak junior, organized a pregame ceremony to honor the victims of July’s shooting in Mukilteo. The ceremony honored the three former Kamiak students who were killed at a party early in the morning on July 30.
Inspired, the Knights came out after the observance and defeated Bishop Blanchet 17-0 in a hard-fought, defensive battle to open their season with a victory for the first time since 2011.
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“They were wonderful kids and we want to acknowledge their love of Kamiak and make sure their families know how much Kamiak loves them,” said Sean Monica, the Kamiak High School athletic director. “… This is the first public event of the school year and, for some people, this might be a continuation of helping them grieve and process and return to a quote-unquote, ‘sense of normalcy.’ Although I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to fully return to how things were before this happened.”
Members of the Long and Ebner families were on hand for the ceremony, which featured addresses from Kamiak principal Mike Gallagher and Mukilteo mayor Jennifer Gregerson, a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims, the lighting of three candles to honor Long, Ebner and Bui and a special performance of “Amazing Grace” by the Knights’ band.
“We’re playing for a higher thing,” said junior running back Ben Barton, who led Kamiak (1-0) with 162 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. “We’re playing for the victims of the shooting. It meant a lot more than just a game to us.”
The pregame ceremony was something that Kamiak football coach Dan Mack was immediately on board with. Mack, who was at Kamiak High School the morning of the shooting with his team as they prepared for a seven-on-seven camp, was emotional as he talked about the three lives that were lost.
“It’s part of the healing process,” Mack said. “Our football team is 100 percent behind it. I had every one of those kids in class. I knew those kids and I loved them.”
Mack coached Long, who played football for the Knights early in his Kamiak athletic career. The Knights players have “Mukilteo Strong” stickers on their helmets, which they’ve had since the start of practices two weeks ago.