Mustangs Trail the Raiders 21-20 at Their Homecoming Game

Jay Patel
JFK(left) facing off in the first play of the night against Scotch Plains Fanwood (right).

Reilly McGowan and Brielle Thomas

After a nail-biter of a game, with the teams trading touchdowns back and forth, the visiting Scotch-Plains Fanwood Raiders pulled ahead by one point to defeat the Kennedy Mustangs.

Michael Hein, the quarterback for the Kennedy Mustangs football team said,“I think it was one of our best games yet.”

The Big Game

The first quarter began with both teams playing strong and not letting each other advance very far down the field for a touchdown. Then, with three minutes remaining, Hein made a one-yard run scoring the first touchdown for the team. With the Mustangs having a choice between a one-point or two-point conversion, Michael Pajak gained a two-point conversion for the team leading them eight points ahead. Not a minute after Kennedy scored, Shawn Martin of Scotch-Plains also scored a touchdown. Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the game getting more aggressive by each play. Resuming in the third quarter, the game was tied 14-14 until Shawn Martin scored a touchdown for his team. With a seven-yard run, Keyshawn Dixon scored a touchdown within the last three minutes of the third quarter for the Mustangs. Through out the fourth quarter the Mustangs tried to pull ahead but the Scotch-Plains defense was too strong, and was able to maintain their lead 21-20. 

“The team tried their best and I’m proud of their hard work,” Mustang senior captain, Emmanuel Diaz said. 

The Homecoming Queens

Football was not the only interesting event that occurred at the game on Friday. The final five homecoming nominees were escorted out after three different qualifier rounds. The time had come to announce a queen. 

Homecoming Queen Nominees

  • Sheaa Amin, walked by Jay Thakkar
  • Chelsea Fernandez, walked by Emmanuel Diaz
  • Ruby Kapoor, walked by Virjeet Kullar
  • Mallory McGowan, walked by Philip Chun
  • Priyanka Patel, walked by Suraj Patel

All the ladies stood on the field with smiles on their faces, proud of how far they had come. 

“Every girl out there deserved it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if any one of them won,” junior Hensi Ahuja claimed. 

How were the girls chosen for the title of a queen? The first round of nomination starts with a senior write-in vote, with the top 16 chosen after. Then, the top 16 hands in a sheet filled with every extra-curricular activity and volunteer work they’ve done in high school. Everything they do is assigned a point value, and is then added to their GPA and amount of absences. The eight girls with the highest points advance to the third round. In the third round, the eight nominees write an essay about a specified topic. The English Department reads the essays anonymously and the final five are then chosen. The senior class then votes on who they want to be queen, which is announced at the game.

All five girls stood in beautiful dresses in the freezing cold, waiting to hear the winner called. Announced first were the runner-ups. The 2019 homecoming runner-ups were Mallory McGowan, Ruby Kapoor, and Priyanka Patel. Both Fernandez and Amin clutched their escorts’ arms in anticipation. Finally, they announced that  Chelsea Fernandez was the first runner-up and Sheaa Amin was the 2019 JFK homecoming queen. 

 Senior Alyssa Trapani exclaimed, “I’m so happy for her, she really deserved it,” moments after the results were announced.

Most knew how hard Sheaa worked in high school, but others were proud of her minority win. 

“Brown girl queen!” Nikita Thaapa exclaimed. “It’s so great to see a local brown girl representation.” 

The Torch congratulates all the nominees, wishing them well in all their endeavors!

Sparks on the Sidelines

Our outstanding Kennedy cheerleaders and marching band added even more adrenaline to the game. The cheerleaders stunning performances and the marching bands astounding music kept the crowd completely exhilarated.

“This season we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We lost so many cheerleaders throughout the whole entire season to injuries and personal things but we’re still rocking through!” says Sarah Corrales, captain of the cheer-leading team. 

Some sideline cheers performed include “Attack”, “Stop & Shake It” and “Beat”. “It depends on how the boys on the field are playing, but ‘Stop & Shake It’ is usually the first cheer we do. Evelyn, Phoebe, Stephanie and I also did backflips for the crowd,” said Isabella Canela, a current cheerleader on the varsity cheer-leading team for JFK. If the boys are playing defense or offense, then the cheerleaders will perform their defense or offense cheers on the sideline for the crowd and their team.

The band also had a fun-filled evening. “Everyone was having a good time performing their hearts out. During the homecoming game, seventh and eight grade students from Fords and Iselin Middle school learn stand tunes and they performed with us during the game on the stands,” said Kelly Vorhees a current color guard for the Kennedy Marching Band. 

They played stand tunes like “Seven Nation Army” and “The Horse”. During their halftime show, they played their award-winning field show. The show depicts America’s first moon landing, the director naming it “One Small Step.” 

Swera Aneja, the low brass section leader and four year tenor saxophone player said, “Our band has made a lot of progress and we’ve been increasing our score higher than it has been in previous years. Having a bigger band promotes positive & exciting energy. Party in the stands every Friday!” 

The spectators were all kept entertained throughout the whole game, despite the tough loss. JFK as a whole considers this game a huge success and commends all who participated!  Great job, Mustangs!