She didn't make a tackle, or even break up a pass. Still, Northwestern (Fla.) High School's Jaline DeJesus made history in the Miami school's 38-12 victory over Hialeah Miami Lakes on Thursday night, becoming the first girl to play in a game for one of the top-ranked teams in Florida's highest division, 6A. In fact, Northwestern stacks up well with the best programs in the entire country, too; the Bulls are currently ranked No. 71 in the RivalsHigh 100.
Perhaps equally notable was the position in which DeJesus played: cornerback. Traditionally reserved for a team's best or quickest athletes (or both), the Miami Herald reported that DeJesus was an able substitute at defensive back for the final minute of Northwestern's victory after being promoted from the Northwestern junior varsity for the game. Considering the fact that DeJesus was filling in for Northwestern seniors Jermaine Reve and James Davis, that's saying something.
DeJesus's game action was an opportunity borne of teammates' mistakes. Nearly 30 Northwestern players were suspended for the game because of an unspecified altercation from the previous week. Northwestern coach Billy Rolle called up a handful of players from his program's junior varsity team, and DeJesus was one of the players that made the cut. You can see more of DeJesus all Northwestern's other single-game fill-ins in this photo gallery by Miami photographer Bruce Supanik.
"I told our players before the game, they had the chance to be part of history," Rolle told the Miami Herald. "She works hard and deserved the opportunity to dress just like the other athletes we brought up for the game."
Whether she makes the Northwestern varsity team next year or not, DeJesus will now be known as the first girl to break into the Northwestern varsity team. That in itself is worth note in a state that's at least as obsessed with football as any in the nation.
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- Hialeah Miami Lakes