The William Penn (York, Pa.) football team honored all of its seniors on Saturday, but the name that loomed largest was the one missing from attendance.
Before the game against New Oxford, the team honored the family of Eugene Hillian, who was shot and killed in York city Tuesday night. He was a junior varsity senior who played wide receiver and defensive back for the team.
Saturday was senior day for the Bearcats, and friends and family accompanied the Hillians down the sideline as they were recognized over the public address system and applauded by fans in attendance. There was obvious emotion, and tears.
After both teams entered Saturday’s game with 0-8 records, William Penn pulled away for a 62-29 victory, its first win in more than two years.
It was a jubilant moment in what has been especially difficult season for the Bearcats.
Earlier this season, two people were shot outside Small Field – the Bearcats’ home field in York – while the team hosted J.P. McCaskey in Week 2. In turn, William Penn home football games were moved from Friday nights to Saturday afternoons.
Then there was Tuesday’s shooting.
Jerald Proctor is a hall monitor at Jackson Elementary School who worked at William Penn High School for 10 years. He said it’s been an up-and-down year, and that a win Saturday would mean a lot to the football program and community.
“A lot of people are pulling for these guys,” Proctor said. “They’re playing for a teammate. He’s looking down on us.”
Proctor continued: “The ups, the downs, the roller coaster ride. They need the win.”