King of the field

Homecoming king balances football and marching band


photo by Kate Haas

Senior Justin Mora has been in football and band since his freshman year. He said that both programs are like a family though the people in each are different. “The football guys are of course more rowdy and stuff like that, and the band kids are more civilized and polite,” Mora said.

The band files out of the stands in order, one by one. Plumes are clicked into their shako hats as they set up concert arcs to warm up before they form a block to march onto the field, patiently waiting for the clock to hit 0:00. The football team runs to the field house, leaving senior deep snapper Justin Mora behind to peel off his pads, rush to get his saxophone and hurry onto the field to march the show. 

Mora, the new homecoming king, has been a part of the band and the football team since his freshman year. Playing on varsity his senior year, the alto saxophone player doesn’t get a halftime break like the rest of his team on Friday nights. He marches a halftime show in the middle of every game. 

“It can be pretty difficult depending on the situation of the game,” Mora said. “If the game is really close, it can be super stressful. If it’s a blowout, then it’s just another exciting part of the night.”

Since his freshman year, Mora had been expecting to quit one or the other, but he doesn’t regret staying in both organizations. 

“My favorite thing about football is that I’m around my best friends every day,” Mora said. “And it’s going to sound corny, but it’s the same thing for band. I just love being around people and doing both lets me be involved in more people’s lives.” 

Head football coach Brian Brazil calls Mora the ‘social butterfly’ of the team – the kid everyone likes and enjoys. 

“He’s just that social guy – doesn’t know a stranger,” Brazil said. “He’s just got a real friendly disposition about him: he’s always got a smile on his face going, ‘Hey coach! What’s going on today?’ He always wants to know what’s going on with me, wants to shake my hand or high five. Sometimes I’m just looking at him like, ‘What are you doing?’ But he’s definitely a fun-loving guy.” 

Senior Peyton Joffre has been friends with Mora since their freshman year when they met in the saxophone section. Joffre said Mora has grown into a positive leader in the band, always encouraging the younger students and bringing the energy up in rehearsal. 

“Freshman year, he kind of came in thinking he was ‘too cool’ for everything and didn’t want to put in the effort,” Joffre said. “As time went by, we could see he’s evolved into more of a hard-working person.” 

Mora said he gets judged by students in each organization for being in the other, but having such close friends in both programs makes it worth it. 

“The biggest thing my friends have taught me is not to care so much about what people think about me and just do my thing,” Mora said. “They’ve shown me there’s no reason to care because no one else is doing what I’m doing.” 

Mora hopes to attend the University of Arkansas, Oklahoma State or University of Hawaii for a degree in computer science after graduation, and he is excited to march with a college band. Mora said the most important thing he’s learned from his high school experience is just to smile. 

No matter what you’re going through, keep a smile on your face,” Mora said. “Things could always be worse and you’re lucky to be where you are.”