Following the deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School on Friday, the football game scheduled for that night was canceled.
Instead of taking the field, the Marysville Pilchuck (M-P) team huddled in the school district headquarters, to mourn both the victims of the attack and the boy responsible for the shooting. The boy, Jaylen Fryberg, had been a member of the M-P freshman football team.
What no one expected was the arrival of members of the Oak Harbor high school football team – the very opponents M-P was scheduled to play that night.
Clad in their purple jerseys, the Oak Harbor players offered hugs and condolences to the mourning team.
“We just wanted to show our respects and show that Oak Harbor cares,” Josiah Welch, a junior running back/defensive back for Oak Harbor, told The Marysville Globe. “They seemed really grateful. They were all happy that we came.”
But the compassion of the Oak Harbor team went beyond a mere show of solidarity.
The team offered to forfeit that night’s game to M-P. This sacrifice gave the M-P team the No. 1 seed for next week’s Wesco 3A crossover games. According to Oak Harbor head coach Jay Turner, the coaches and players were in 100 percent agreement in forfeiting to M-P.
“That’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen,” said Brandon Carson, M-P coach. “That just shows you what kind of people they are. Those guys have showed it tonight just by coming here and coming to the vigil and visiting us at our team meeting. I can’t put into words what it means for not only high school athletics, but for our team to get through this grieving process.”
Oak Harbor’s sacrifice left a lasting impact on the M-P team and community.
“The fact that they drove here from Oak Harbor, it’s not like you’re driving here from Stanwood or from Arlington — it’s not a fifteen-minute drive. It’s a long ways. That was the classiest move I’ve ever seen in football at any level,” said Corbin Ferry, the M-P senior lineman .
From special cheers to spectators donning the M-P school colors of red and white, the games which took place Friday were filled with support for the mourning team.
“The Western Conference athletic directors feel strongly that it is important to help our students with as much sense of normalcy as possible,” said Robert Polk, Everett School District athletic director. “We do not want tragedy to paralyze us in our daily lives. The victims of this tragedy will be honored at each game across the league.”
As the school will be closed for the week, the M-P team’s upcoming practice and competition schedule remains uncertain. Carson is eager for the team to play at the next game, scheduled for Friday, October 31.
“I think it can rally a community together, especially if you can provide a win and give something the community can feel good about,” Carson said. “Just from a grieving process, it’ll help to get back on a normal schedule and routine.”