After the Bartlett and East high school football teams battled in the annual East Side Boot game Saturday in remembrance of a defensive lineman killed in a 2002 hit-and-run accident, they joined together on the field.
The rival teams from two of the nation's most diverse high schools began to chant deeply and clap their hands. Together, as a cluster of white and red jerseys, they performed the haka, a traditional Polynesian warrior dance.
Mary Ann Pruitt took a video from the crowd Saturday afternoon and said the students broke into the haka after the trophy was handed to Bartlett for its 21-14 win. Her husband, Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, posted the video on Facebook Saturday night, where it has since been viewed thousands of times.
John Jessen, Bartlett football co-coach, said Wednesday that to him, the performance of the haka this weekend represented brotherhood and unity. The students performed the haka in memory of East all-state defensive lineman Aanooalii "Auno" Filoialii, who was killed by a drunken driver in 2002. The performance also highlighted the good that's happening on the city's east side, he said.
"We're playing hard but there's a bunch of love on the field, from both sides," Jessen said. "I don't know if I've been more inspired in my coaching career."