The 2015 high school football season has claimed another victim, this one more than two weeks after he initially collapsed at a team practice.
As reported by the Augusta Chronicle, Burke County offensive lineman Rod Williams died Monday evening, nearly two weeks after he initially collapsed just minutes into the team’s practice on Sept. 22. Autopsy results will be released in the coming days, but indication are that the junior offensive lineman might have suffered from a congenital heart defect.
Williams becomes the fifth high school football player nationwide to die after a game or team practice in a five-week period. The funeral is scheduled for Saturday at the school’s auditorium.
“We were initially told he had some drastic sudden event with his heart,” Burke County football coach Eric Parker told the Chronicle. “We were hoping and praying he would come back; it just wasn’t meant to be.”
While it is obviously impossible for the team to completely turn the page on Williams’ passing, Parker said that it would use the loss of a teammate as motivation to drive forward in Williams’ memory. Burke County’s Quan Wilson said that the team had dedicated the remainder of its 2015 campaign to Williams, and Parker insisted that the tragic loss would his team grow as competitors and men.
A vigil was held at the school Tuesday morning and the team intends to play Friday night’s game as scheduled.
“Stuff like this puts things in perspective,” Parker told the Chronicle. “We’re going to try to keep things as normal as possible. I think as time moves on, we’ll be fine. What I’m not certain about is right this moment.
“He was a great kid and a good student. He was kind of the team clown – just real popular.”
Said principal Sam Adkins, “He was well loved by his classmates. It’s truly a loss for Burke County High School to lose Rod.”