GRIDIRON: Homecoming, high school vs. college


Photo: Huiling Wu/ Iowa State Daily

Deon Broomfield tackles OSU running back Joseph Randle in the Cyclones’ 31-10 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Stephen Koenigsfeld

With a smile from ear to ear, Deon Broomfield ventured back into his mind where he found his favorite high school homecoming memory.

With the smile came some laughter as the ISU defensive back thought about the emotions and reactions of the crowd, his coach and himself.

“My senior year I was one of the guys that ran for homecoming king,” Broomfield said. “And I won it. But coach wouldn’t let me go out there and run around the track. So nobody knew I won homecoming until after the game.”

As the football team approaches the 100th anniversary of homecoming at Iowa State, some players reminisced about their high school homecomings and the emotions that filled that time.

Running back Jeff Woody recounted, as Broomfield did, about his senior homecoming. 

“Funny story is, during homecoming my senior year, we actually beat Jamison Lalk’s team 63-6,” Woody said. “[Homecoming] was always fun because it was always a big festival, a big to-do.”

Woody couldn’t help but chuckle as he told the story of thrashing teammate Lalk’s Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln team.

The festivities Iowa State has during the week leading up to Homecoming, Woody said, do a good job of getting fans excited and in that “Homecoming atmosphere.”

Similar to Broomfield, running back Shontrelle Johnson attended a high school in Florida, where he took a more holistic point of view to his past Homecomings. 

“It’s a big deal to the fans and it’s a big event, Homecoming is,” Johnson said. “I was excited to see all our fans come out and support us. That’s how I remember it, a lot of activities going on.”

For a coach, homecoming week in a college atmosphere can be quite different from that of a student-athlete.

ISU coach Paul Rhoads was an assistant coach at Iowa State from 1995-99 and has experienced his fair share of Homecomings.

“I’ve got a very busy schedule this week … and that’s what goes along with wearing this hat,” Rhoads said of being the coach of ISU football.

As far as preparation for the football game goes, Woody said there’s a pretty drastic change in what homecoming means in high school compared to the collegiate level.

“In high school, it’s about making sure you take care of the business you have to take care of,” Woody said. “In a lesser conference, you can schedule a team that’s really bad and that’s what you do in high school. You schedule a team you’re guaranteed to beat.

“In college — and in the Big 12 — there is no such thing as a ‘gimme.’ It places an extra emphasis on a win.”

Woody said for the 100th Homecoming, there is even more pressure to get a win — more so than a regular Homecoming football game.

On the topic of college homecomings, Woody said the Cyclones have been the opponent for other schools’ homecomings.

“Last year, when we played Missouri, we shot ourselves in the foot,” Woody said. “But they came out swinging because it was their centennial homecoming.”

The focus and execution Missouri had in its 52-17 win against Iowa State last season, Woody said, would have to be the same for their game against Baylor. 

Broomfield said in high school, preparation was little more lax. Homecoming king and queen were popular, and everyone got wrapped up in the excitement.

Now, for Cyclones, Broomfield said it is a complete turnaround.

“For us, it’s just another week,” Broomfield said. “We don’t do any other festivities for Homecoming here, so it’s just a regular game plan. High school [homecoming] was a bit distracting.”