The haka has long been part of the Mesa High School football tradition, a pregame war cry that signifies strength and unity.
On Friday afternoon, during a send-off luncheon for offensive coordinator Junior Taylor, the players broke into an impromptu haka to show their love for their coach.
Taylor, a 2001 Mesa graduate who played at UCLA, is leaving to become a receivers coach at Wagner in New York.
“I did not expect that,” Taylor said of the haka. “I heard a scream, and a couple of guys started the war chant. I look up and the next thing I know, the whole team jumps out from their tables.
“They jump in formation. It totally caught me off-guard. It was very emotional seeing that. It was very touching.”