By BRYAN URBACH
As if it being homecoming this Friday for the Palestine Wildcats wasn’t pressure enough, two former Palestine athletes will be in attendance.
Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson will have his jersey retired at halftime, and he will be in attendance.
Peterson graduated from Palestine High School in 2004 and was the No. 1 recruit in the nation coming out of high school. He rushed for 2,960 yards in his senior year at Palestine.
Peterson played football at the University of Oklahoma where he was an All American. In 2004, he was runner up for the Heisman Trophy and won the Jim Brown Award as College Football’s best running back. He was the NFL MVP last season.
Also at the game will be Sandra Cummings Glover, who graduated from PHS in 1987 and ran track at the University of Houston. She went on to a professional career in track competing in the 400 meter hurdles.
From 1999-2006, Glover was ranked in the top 10 in the world in the 400 meter hurdles.
In 2000, she competed in the Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
She was the United States Champion in the 400 meter hurdle for four years, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
In 2003 and 2004, she was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 400 meter hurdles.
Palestine coach Lance Angel said with Peterson and Glover expected to be in attendance and all of the hype surrounding Friday’s game, he expects his team to come out and execute to its fullest potential.
“I believe our players always handle the ‘big stage’ well,” Angel said. “I have no doubt we will play with a lot of effort and enthusiasm.”
After playing two consecutive road games, the Wildcats will be back at home in a much-needed game at Wildcat Stadium. In the past two games on the road, the Wildcats dropped both games.
Playing at home is something the Wildcats are thankful to have this week, Angel said.
“It’s always nice to play at home,” the coach said. “Pittsburg is a very talented team with a lot of tradition. It will be another exciting game.”
As of this week, high schools will be halfway through the season. At the halfway point, the Wildcats have had to fight off injuries to several key players, but Angel said he looks at the injuries not as something that is holding Palestine back, but something that will ultimately help the Wildcats in the future.
“I’m proud of the players who have stepped in for the injured players,” Angel said. “As coaches you are always preaching through off-season, summer and 2-a-days that every backup is one play away from being a starter, so players have to be ready. That’s why mental reps in practice are so important.
Because of injuries, some athletes are getting more playing time.
“The great thing that will come from this is all the injured players will be back at some point this season and we have gotten a lot of playing time for some players which will improve our depth later on in the year,” Angel added.
“We’ve had some sophomores and juniors that weren’t getting much playing time at the beginning of the year that have now stepped into starting roles.”