There was a new twist to the Oklahoma Eight Man Football Coaches Association awards banquet Friday night - a family reunion.
Nick Cash, a member of the Green all-star squad, got to see his father - Sgt. Rocky Cash - for the first time since October.
“It was definitely a shock - I had no idea he was going to show up,” said Nick.
Nick and sister Nicole were stunned when they saw their father walk through one of the west doors of the Carter Student Union Ballroom.
Rocky has been deployed to Iraq as part of the Oklahoma City-based 45th Infantry since October - which meant he had to miss Timberlake's drive to the Class B semifinals.
“I had no idea,” Nicole Cash said. “She (mom) had been telling a bunch of lies (about when her father would be home). It was a real surprise.”
Rocky, stationed at Camp Bucca, Iraq, wasn't sure if he would be able to get a leave until April.
“When he found out he was playing in the game, my wife (Melinda) asked him if he would rather me come to graduation or me come to this, because I could only come to one,” Rocky Cash said. “Once I found out I was going to get to come, we kept it a secret.”
The 45th Infantry was sent to Kuwait in January and then went into Iraq on Feb. 15.
Sgt. Cash previously had been deployed to Afghanistan in 2003-04.
The plans of Rocky and Melinda almost came unraveled due to flight schedules.
“My intentions were to have been here last night (Thursday),” Rocky Cash said. “I was scheduled to be off today. When I got to Kuwait, my flight got bumped.”
He didn't leave Kuwait until 2 a.m. Friday. He went to Germany, where he had a two-hour layover, then departed for Dallas.
That's where things got dicey.
“When I was leaving Kuwait, I found out I was going to have a 10-hour layover in Dallas,” Rocky said. “My flight wasn't supposed to leave Dallas until 10 o'clock tonight. I thought ‘oh, krud!'”
Sgt. Cash called his wife and asked if she could get a flight on another airline.
“She got me on a 3 o'clock flight, so I was able to make it here,” he said.
Once Rocky got to Dallas, it was a piece of cake, since the flight was only about 45 minutes. He then had a friend drive him to Miami.
"I told a lot of lies for the last six months," Melinda said. "It worked out perfect, but we pushed it a little here at the end. The banquet started at 7 and he showed up at about 8 or so. That pushed it really close."
"I will play a lot harder knowing he's here to watch," said Nick, who was one of 10 scholarship winners named during the banquet. He received a $1,000 scholarship from Alert Services.
Rocky has 15 days leave before returning to duty. He's hopeful of being home by fall - he and Melinda have a cruise planned for December.