• Counselor Talks @ Auditorium Mon-Tues
  • Boys Soccer vs. Senior (V/ JV / JV2) 04:30 p.m. @ Clark Stadium Girls JV2 Soccer vs. Lake Highlands 04:30 p.m. @ Kimbrough
  • Girls Basketball vs. Marcus (JV / V) 05:30 p.m. / 07:00 @Plano East Girls Soccer vs. Lake Highlands (JV / V) 06:00 p.m. / 07:30 @ Kimbrough
  • Boys Basketball vs. Marcus (JV / V) 06:15 p.m. / 07:45 @Marcus H.S. Wrestling: Senior Night 06:00 p.m. @ Plano East
  • Band Winter Concert 07:00 p.m. @ Auditorium
  • Academic Decathlon Regionals All Day
  • Speech & Debate Tournament All Day @ Flower Mound Boys Soccer vs. Hebron (V/ JV / JV2) 04:30 p.m. @ Kimbrough Girls Soccer vs. Hebron (JV / JV2 / V) 04:30 p.m. @ Hebron Boys Basketball vs. Lewisville (JV / V) 05:30 p.m. / 07:00 @ Plano East Girls Basketball vs. Lewisville (JV / V) 05:30 p.m. / 07:00 @ Lewisville Academic Decathlon Regionals All Day Speech & Debate Tournament All Day @Flower Mound Computer Science Contest 07:00 a.m. @ B1 Military Ball 05:30 p.m. @ Holiday Inn
The News Source of Plano East Senior High School

Panther Prints

The News Source of Plano East Senior High School

Panther Prints

The News Source of Plano East Senior High School

Panther Prints

Friday Night Lights Have Begun

Aveesa Bhayani

As the sun sets, anticipation seeps in; students crowd the stands waiting for the first football game of the season, coaches give words of encouragement, players prepare to lock in, and students begin to cheer. Football, the leading American sport, has been a part of high school culture for decades. The iconic scenes on TV become reality as some students experience their first ‘Friday Night Lights’, and some come back to see their last season as high school students. Ladies and gentlemen, football season has officially begun. 

“Having the band playing when I’m on the field and just competing against a team that wants to win as much as we do, it’s always fun and there’s really no feeling like it to be honest,” senior Joshua Palma said. 

The success of the game, however, comes with a lot of hard work and dedication. The players have worked towards this season for the last nine months. Over the summer, they practiced while the world was asleep from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. During the school year, they practice long after everyone has gone home. With great work comes great leadership as new seniors seek to lead by example during practice with mindsets they hope will translate onto the field. 

“I’m trying my best to be a leader for my position group, be more vocal, and really try to get everyone to buy into this idea of coming together as a team,” Palma said. “I’ll try my best just to make sure they know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.”

Story continues below advertisement

This leadership comes to combat issues seen in previous years. With Plano East coming off a losing streak, coaches and players hope to approach this year with a fresh start and a new mindset. 

“We were on a high [last year] because we were winning all those games,” Palma said. “We felt like we were a good team, which we were, it’s just that our mentality changed. We were in the wrong mindset for the rest of the season and I think that’s what really held us back from getting to where we need to be.”

Players are confident with the new changes implemented; they can start this year off with a bang. To combat injuries, players are now required to wear ankle and knee braces to protect from injury. Additionally, with all the hard work put into the game, coaches work hard to prioritize school work. Every Tuesday morning, any student who has below an 80 in a class is required to attend study sessions in the gym. Upon arrival, coaches take their phones and they begin to silently study. 

“[It’s] a long day with school and sometimes they’re tired and don’t do their assignments, so we check and make sure that if they’re missing anything they can come in Tuesday morning and get it done,” head coach Anthony Benedetto said. “It’s just a way to show them that their schoolwork is still more important than anything else [they’re] doing.”

Benedetto remains invested in his students both on and off the field. During this season, he hopes to teach his players more than just football; he wants to teach them life lessons. 

 “One of the things I’m most excited for is when adversity strikes to see how the kids respond to it and then use it as a learning lesson to teach them about life as they get older,” Benedetto said. “Last year we were 3-0, we played our rival, we were supposed to beat Plano, we lost to Plano and after the end of the game, some of the players, they’re crying, they’re frustrated and it’s like ‘alright what are you gonna do?’”

To strengthen the team, players work on versatility. In the event of an injury, players train for both defensive and offensive positions. The goal is to replace an injured player with the next best player to increase efficiency. The team has also updated their strategy from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense. This means three linemen and four linebackers on the field meant to boost speed. This method has proven successful in the team’s game last Friday night against Rowlett where the team won 48-14. In light of this win, the teams plan for a good season, starting with an anticipated win against Naaman Forest this Friday. 

“I think false confidence is when you’re not prepared for something but you act like you are; there are tons of students who are that way,” Benedetto said. “But when you prepare for something, you’re ready, you should be confident. They put the work in and they should have confidence going into this season.”

More to Discover