Under Friday night lights, Georgia high school ‘played from the heart’ to win first game since teammate’s death

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Macon, Georgia (CNN)Dylan Thomas’ number was painted on the faces of Pike County High School cheerleaders, emblazoned on T-shirts, wristbands and the towels hanging from his colleagues’ waists.

The 16-year-old Pike County linebacker — who used No. 32– collapsed in the 3rd quarter throughout a football video game recently. Dylan needed to be assisted off the field. He passed out and passed away of a head injury 2 days later on, on Sunday.
There were tips of Dylan all over– even in the prayer by the play-by-play commentator who pastored a regional church– as the teen’s colleagues punched it out with Rutland High School on Friday, Pike’s very first video game considering that Dylan’s death.

Parents and fans used red t-shirts that had Dylan’s initials and number. Coaches used red t-shirts with his name on the back.

What was expected to be simply another Friday night video game for the Pirates handled brand-new significance. Colleagues stated they were figured out to bet Dylan– who was referred to as DT– and for everybody in the close-knit neighborhood, such as the worshipers who invited gamers into their sanctuaries in the days following Dylan’s death. His moms and dads desired the group to play, too.
“The loss of Dylan will now require us to reinforce our hearts,” Jordan Holley stated of his colleague in a message to CNN. “We might not be the fastest, greatest or finest group in our area and we might not win another video game this season however progressing there’s not a single high school group in the United States that has more heart than us, today.”

Paying aspects to No. 32

Twenty-four hours prior to the video game, hundreds participated in Dylan’s funeral . His colleagues and members of the junior university group used their red jerseys following his household’s demand.
Mourners painted the number 32 on automobile windows.
A group of gamers from Peach County High School– the group Pike County played when Dylan was fatally hurt– pertained to pay their aspects Thursday. Peach County Coach Chad Campbell had actually informed his group it was going to be a hard day. 2 years earlier, 2 Peach County gamers passed away in an automobile mishap, he stated.
Campbell stated he understood what Pike County was going through, and how neighborhood matters.
“Pike County likes their sports and their neighborhood. This is a rallying cry for that neighborhood and understanding from our scenarios a couple years back, it made our neighborhood get closer,” he informed CNN.

The Georgia High School Association , which supervises Georgia high school sports, stated there is no proof of neglect in Dylan’s death. Coaches took every preventative measure, the association stated.
Pike County Coach Brad Webber stated authorities were not sure how or when Dylan was hurt. Coaches examined the video game to attempt to find out what took place. Did he take a huge hit?
Nothing stood apart. Which’s what makes it harder, Webber stated.
“If you understand, you can avoid things. Simply the method that occurred, it’s simply ravaging,” he stated.
In a Facebook post obviously by Dylan’s mom, Shannon Burgess Thomas, she stated her “heart is broken today.” The post thanked everybody for “the love you have actually revealed for … our infant young boy.”
“Dylan Thomas remains in a much better location and holding gods (sic) hand think that,” the post stated.
On Friday’s bus trip to Macon from Zebulon– where the high school lies– the Pirates were quiet as they got ready for the video game. Webber remembered noticing a somberness. He questioned whether their feelings would overwhelm them.
“The football field to these people is type of our sanctuary,” Webber stated.
Pike gamers hoped and knelt in the end zone. The pastor, Benjamin Newberry, who was Rutland’s play-by-play commentator, wished the Pike neighborhood, Dylan and his household.
“We wish defense,” stated Newberry, a dairy farmer whose kid bets the Rutland group.

Rutland launched black and red balloons prior to the video game.
Newberry revealed the names of the captains, leaving Dylan’s name for last. Fellow Pike captains brought Dylan’s jersey on the field for the coin toss.
The goals came rapidly for the Pirates, minutes apart. As seconds ticked away in the very first half, Pike scored once again. They were leading by 32– Dylan’s number.
In the locker space, Webber didn’t need to state much.
“Just keep playing,” he remembered informing them.
Each time a Pike gamer scuttled into completion zone, a sea of red cheered and sounded cowbells.
In the end, the Pirates were triumphant– 48-2.
“They played from the heart,” stated 61-year-old Shirley Heard, a school bus motorist who has actually been going to Pike County football video games because the 70s.
Both groups knelt in the middle of the field, and like the pastor, Webber hoped “that God’s hand of defense will be over both groups, be over all these kids, be over our neighborhoods.”
And together, the gamers screamed one last time. “DT!”

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/05/us/dylan-thomas-high-school-football-game/index.html

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