Coaches, players and parents gather near the field house at Mustang Memorial Park after practice to share a team dinner like they usually do before each game, but the night before the first battle is when the parents of seniors get to present the jersey of their senior while sharing a few thoughts about them.

The Eldon football team conducts a special ceremony every year that takes place the night before the first football game.

Coaches, players and parents gather near the field house at Mustang Memorial Park after practice to share a team dinner like they usually do before each game, but the night before the first battle is when the parents of seniors get to present the jersey of their senior while sharing a few thoughts about them. The tradition was a staple under former Head Coach Shannon Jolley, and like the Father-Son Barbecue, it was one that Chad Hult was glad to continue in his first year at the helm.

“I think it is really important to be maintained for our kids,” Hult said. “Not very often do you have parents come up and say in front of everyone how proud they are so it is a bonding moment for those guys that most people don’t get to experience.”

This season there are nine different players who make up the Class of 2018 and Hult has commended the group for their hard work and the way they have stuck together. Having spent the past three years with the unit, the night is just as special for Hult and members of his staff who have been there for every step of the way.

“It is a great process for us, especially when you have been around for a while,” said Hult who spent the past five seasons as an assistant in the program. “You get to spend four years with these guys so you grow attached to them too and it is nice to hear the parents come up and say some encouraging words for them. It is pretty inspirational.”

One of those seniors is Jakob Krantz. After moving to Eldon just before his freshman year from Olathe, Kan., the senior may not have the longevity of bonding time some of his fellow teammates may have, but he has felt right at home and credits his parents Beth and Viktor for helping to make that happen.

“They are great,” Krantz said of his father who serves on the Eldon School Board and mother who leads the high school volleyball team. “They pushed me to get into everything because I was kind of timid at first. It is a great place to be and they have supported me the whole way.”

And as nice as it was to hear his parents say a few kind words about him, Krantz was just as moved by the words of other parents.

“Just listening to all the parents talk about their kids, especially talking about Hunter (Bushnell), that made me pretty emotional,” Krantz said of his fellow teammate who suffered a serious spinal injury in practice last year that left him paralyzed from the chest down. “I was pretty close to him and still am.”

And that kind of reflection was just one thing for all players to think about before they suited up for the first game. Hult said the timing of this event is no accident.

“We chose this day for a reason,” Hult said prior to the start of the season. “That way they get extra time together and get a different connection most teams don’t get right before they go out on the field together.”

However the rest of the season shakes out, Krantz won’t be taking his final season as a Mustang for granted.

“It is a really cool place,” the senior said of Eldon. “I came from a really big town so condensing it all and getting really close with everybody, it is great and I love it.”

If that impression is any indication, it seems the jersey presentation ceremony certainly achieved its intended purpose.