By Kathi Bliss
In their final outing of the season, the Lions squared off with the Kerrville Tivy Antlers on Friday night. Their playoff hopes already dashed, the Lions played as hard as they could against a powerhouse team, but the truest victory for the Lion family had already come; the biggest win of the night happened before the first whistle blew.
Bella Herman, the 10-year-old daughter of Head Coach Brian Herman and his wife, Nicole, was diagnosed last spring with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare and debilitating nervous system disorder which, at its worst, left Bella so weak she could not walk, stand, or even open a coloring marker.
Over months of rehabilitation, physical and medical therapy, Bella regained the use of her arms and legs, gaining the love and support of her Lion family along the way. She spent the season on the sidelines, cheering her “big brothers” through their best moments, and some of their worst.
But the one thing she hasn’t done is run.
Friday night, when her “Lion Brothers” entered the stadium for their last game of the season, the Lion Family scored their biggest win of the season, as young Bella, flanked by her father and Athletic Director Sheila Henderson, led her team to the 50-yard line to open the game, running as fast as her thin legs could carry her, with a full house of Lion fans – and Antler fans – on their feet, cheering her on.
The moment was so powerful for many “Team Bella” fans, that the rest of the night wasn’t as important as a night under the Friday Night Lights usually is. The Lions were outgunned by a powerful Tivy squad, led by wide receiver Tyler Ahrens, a senior who signed this year to play for Kansas State.
Tivy jumped out to an early 14-0 lead before senior CJ McKinney was able to break away on a 70-yard touchdown dash late in the first quarter.
The Antlers continued to grind away at the Lions’ defense and capitalize on offensive missteps, widening their lead to 31-7 before Curtis Hawkins was able to power his way into the end zone in the third quarter, with McKinney following up on the two-point conversion.
Preparing for their playoff bid against Burbank this weekend, Tivy continued to stack up points, keeping the Lions away from the end zone and finally ending the night with a final score of 53-15.
Still, hearts were light and heads were high in Lion Stadium, knowing that one of the youngest members of the Lion family scored the biggest win of the season.
Check next week’s Post-Register for a wrap-up of the Lions’ season and a special tribute to this year’s Lion seniors.