Teammates share one last milestone as five sign to play college football
Many seniors at De Soto High School have signed letters of intent to play college athletics in the past few months but no other ceremony has filled the room like Wednesday's. That's because Wednesday's ceremony celebrated the next step in the football careers of five DHS seniors.
Seniors Jeff Bowen, son of Trish Edwards and Jeff Bowen, Logan DeGraeve, son of Gina and Pete DeGraeve, Aaron Follmer, son of Ray and Cindy Follmer, Justin Hoskins, son of Jennifer Shuler and Mark Hoskins and Chris Henning, son of Allan and Chris Henning, all signed letters of intent to play college football at five different universities.
"I really like that we all waited to sign out letters together," said Hoskins, who will be attending Highland Community College in the fall. "We've been a team for so long and I think we'll always be close so it was good to do one last team thing."
DHS has done group signing ceremonies in the past but this the first one under new Activities Director Dwight Spencer and the largest he has seen.
"I really like the idea of doing group signings, they come with a little bit of extra chaos but it's worth it," Spencer said. "I think it's neat for teammates to go out together."
While the five Wildcats may not be on the same football team again, they'll be on the same field. Because the boys are all going to different schools in the same divisions, they will meet as opponents for the first time.
"I think it's going to be kind of fun to play against these guys," said DeGraeve, who will be attending Baker University. "We're already competitive with each other so it'll be great."
Bowen will be heading to Hutchinson Community College, Follmer to Ft. Scott Community College and Henning to William Jewell College.
Henning, who was unable to play football his freshman year due to injury, felt great relief finally signing.
"I'm really excited to go to Jewell and happy they were interested in me," he said. "It feels great to finally sign something but it feels even better because I'm doing it with my friends."
For some, the move from high school to college is a dream come true, for others it is a pleasant surprise.
"We're very proud of Aaron and very surprised," said Ray Follmer. "We weren't expecting him to play college ball at all but we couldn't be happier about it."
"I'm beyond excited," said Trish Edwards. "Jeff has always dreamed of playing college (foot)ball, hopefully this will be his stepping stone to a bigger university and then on to the NFL."
Whatever the future holds for these five Wildcats, they will always share the memory that they helped lead DHS to its best football season in nearly two decades.
"Each of you has a unique story and it's great that one chapter is that you were successful through ups and downs in high school," DHS head football coach Tom Byers said during a speech Wednesday. "I know you will all do well and I'm excited to hear the rest of your stories beyond DHS."