The annual homecoming event is always a highlight of the year for Milken students. This year, the celebration began at 11 AM on Thursday, October 26, with the pep rally town meeting. Both Upper School and Middle School students, as well as faculty, gathered in the Hollander Gymnasium where they were greeted by music and beach balls, as well as members of Student Government, who offered to paint “eye black” in Wildcat blue on their faces. Once the students were seated, a video of the football team’s highlights from the season was shown. Coach Sergio Paredes then introduced the football team, and the two seniors and co-captains, Yoni Ben-Naim ‘18 and Jordan Kalman ‘18, spoke, encouraging all the students and faculty to come out and support the players. “We need you, and all your energy, so that we can win tonight,” Ben-Naim said. The pep rally continued with every fall sports team being asked to stand so that they could be honored, as Homecoming is an event that not only honors the football team, but the entire Athletic Department as well. Then, Student Government Co-Social Chair Aaron Farahnik ‘18 led a a relay where teams of three students stuck their noses in vaseline and then into a plate of cotton balls with the goal of getting the cotton balls off their nose without their hands. Lastly, to end the pep rally, the mascot competition took place. Sophie Kaplan ‘19 won the honor of being Homecoming mascot over Grace Zucker ‘19 and Kayla Sorenson ‘19.
Later, at 5 PM, students, faculty, and parents gathered at Pierce College for the Homecoming Carnival, planned by Student Government. While there were several game booths, an inflatable wrecking ball game, sumo wrestling, and food, the highlight of the carnival was the dunk tank. Students could pay money for a chance to dunk three brave faculty members who decided to sit in the dunk tank: Rabbi David Saiger, Mr. Javy Martinez, and Mr. Billy Kaplan. Hundreds of students gathered to watch these three teachers get dunked. When asked how it felt to be dunked, Rabbi Saiger said, “It felt like going into my favorite mikveh in Jerusalem.”
After the two-hour-long carnival, it was finally time for kickoff. Windward took an early lead in the first quarter of 14-0 after two Wildcat turnovers within the first two plays. Excellent running plays by Yoni Ben-Naim and Zech Humphreys ‘20, almost led the Wildcats to score, but the Windward defense was too strong. Windward scored again putting them up 20-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Wildcats were able to stop Windward for a couple drives, but Windward was able to score again. The Wildcats then fumbled the kick return, allowing Windward to score once again, making the score 34-0. However, toward the end of the half, two completions by Quarterback Daniel Schrager ‘19 to Max Ptasznik ‘19 and Gavin Lieberman ‘19 followed by a short run by Yoni Ben-Naim led the Wildcats to score their first touchdown of the night. At halftime, the score was 34-8, Windward in the lead.
The Wildcats tried to come back in the second half, but the amount of turnovers and the monumental deficit halted their efforts. Within the first 10 seconds of the half, Windward was able to score putting them up 41-8. Both Windward and Milken were close, but unable to score for the remainder of the third quarter. A great run by Yoni Ben-Naim followed by a quick five yard run for Jordan Kalman led the Wildcats to score their second touchdown of the night, decreasing Windward’s lead to 41-14. Running plays by Ben-Naim and Humphreys led the Wildcats to score one more time before the night was over. A two-point conversion by Lieberman put the Wildcats down only 41-22. However, on the kick return, Windward was able to score just seconds before the game was over with a final score of 49-22 Windward.
The halftime show was a highlight for many Wildcat fans. Both the Milken dance team and the Los Angeles Israeli Dance Company performed, and Daniella Banton ‘18 and Ariel Florentin ‘18 participated in a field goal kicking contest. Towards the end of halftime, football team seniors and co-captains Yoni Ben-Naim and Jordan Kalman were honored alongside their parents for their dedication to the football program throughout their time in high school.
Jordan Kalman’s fourth quarter touchdown was the first touchdown Kalman scored in his four years playing football. Kalman usually plays offensive or defensive line, so he is not one to score touchdowns but rather blocks so that others can score. Kalman described his first touchdown saying, “Wow. It really felt great to score my first touchdown ever in my final game of high school.”
While the Wildcats may have lost the game, it is evident that the fans had an incredible experience, and therefore won in the stands. Homecoming was once again a huge success thanks to the football team, Student Government, and the entire student body.