Kids swarm Hornet Stadium

Marshall Hampson

Kids dream big and the Sacramento State football program made some dreams come true on Aug. 21.

Hornet Stadium hosted the first Bee a Hornet event, which gave the youngsters in attendance a chance to play with their favorite Hornet players before the season begins.

The event started off with Sac State football’s first scrimmage, followed by kids rushing out of the stands and out onto the new turf field to do drills with the Hornets.

Dozens of kids participated with the players in drills throughout the afternoon as Hornet alumni, parents, coaches and Hornet Girlz dance team cheered them on.

Keith Lombard, 6, said he was out there with all the football players in hopes of fulfilling his dream of playing professionally.

“I’m gonna play football,” Keith said. “I wanna play for the Raiders!”

One of the kids, Hayden, attended the event because he used to play football a few years ago.

“We’re just kids running around on a turf football field. It’s fun to hold the football again,” Hayden said. “I’ve played football before and I think it’s really fun.”

In previous years, the football program had a meet-and-greet session after the first scrimmage, but with the new turf field and new facilities like surrounding Hornet Stadium, this year was an expansion of what the program has done in years past.

Center John Taylor said he wished he had an opportunity in his youth to be on the field with players he looked up to.

“I never really had something like this as a kid,” Taylor said. “My father actually pushed me to do football. But I never had any outside support from the community.”

When the drills came to an end, the kids were able to get autographs from their favorite Hornets and left with an autographed Sac State sports poster for the kids to put up on their wall.

Holly Macriss, wife of Deputy Athletic Director Bill Macriss, said she was thrilled how comfortable the children felt with the players and dancers during the event.

“The coaches are so great at getting the young kids involved,” Holly Macriss said. “But the players are really cool and will always come over and try to help the kids and bond with them. It’s a great family feel with this event and I appreciate this.”

Her son, John Macriss, 13, participated in the drills and said he enjoyed being with the players even though we does not want to become a football player.

“It was nice out there trying to be a football player,” John Macriss said. “On the third time around, I actually made a field goal. It was fun.”

While Bee a Hornet was all fun and games, the football team had work to do on the field earlier in the day.

The offense racked up six touchdowns throughout the 72-play scrimmage, while the defense ended the day forcing three turnovers and had several sacks.

Head coach Marshall Sperbeck and the coaching staff rotated players every few series so they had a chance to look at everybody during the game.

“The first scrimmage for us is just the kids’ first test,” Sperbeck said. “They get to get out and be evaluated for the first time in a live environment. There was good and bad and we have a measuring stick now to work from.”

Senior quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson went 14-27 passing for 140 yards and threw the first touchdown of the scrimmage to wide receiver Chase Deadder.

“The offense did a great job and the defense did a good job holding us down,” Bethel-Thompson said. “It was overall a great scrimmage. I mean, both sides were competing and it was the first time live going at each other.”

With leg injuries to receivers John Hendershott and Brandyn Reed, Morris Norrise, Ronald Richardson and Chris Broadnax filled in and combined for 14 catches for 193 yards and three touchdowns.

“We realized we had a lot of things to work on. We did well with our snap counts,” Taylor said. “We just have to practice on coming out faster. We had a really nice passing game going on with a lot of deep balls and nice catches. We obviously set our expectations high and we always strive for the best.”

As the team looks ahead to the season opener against

Stanford, the Sac State community was able to share some fun, lighthearted time with the football program.

“We figure it’s a good time to get the kids out here and get the community involved,” Bethel-Thompson said. “And for the kids, hopefully they’ll be coming here when they get older.”

Marshall Hampson can be reached at [email protected]