A high school football player died Monday night at a Phoenix hospital, days after he suffered a blow to the head during a game.
Keams Canyon Hopi High School football running back Charles Youvella incurred a critical head injury Saturday night during a Division V playoff game against Arizona Lutheran Academy.
The scoreboard was lopsided in the first-round playoff game. The Hopi Bruins were down 60-6 when the high school senior was trying to will his team to victory. He’d already scored their only touchdown and on defense sacked the Coyote’s quarterback.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Youvella caught a pass followed by what officials said appeared to be a typical football tackle. On the way down, the back of Youvella’s head hit the ground hard.
Witnesses said Youvella got right back to his feet and lined up for two more plays before collapsing on the field. He was conscious and talking when paramedics took him away, but by the time he arrived at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix he was in critical condition. He remained that way through Monday.
Late Monday night, the Arizona Interscholastic Association told 12 News Youvella had died.
Chuck Schmidt, Associate Executive Director of the AIA, said the organization would start an account through which people can donate to help the family with medical bills.
“He has a significant amount of family around him,” Schmidt said before Youvella’s passing was announced by hospital officials Monday night. “I can’t believe the support up there. The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers.”
Youvella was the second-leading rusher on the Hopi team that had its best regular-season record (9-1) in school history.
His family declined interviews.