In a show of solidarity and as a symbol of respect for Warren Hills Regional High School quarterback Evan Murray, who died after being injured in a football game, players from two Central Jersey leagues will wear specially designed helmet decals for the remainder of the season beginning this weekend.
In addition, football-playing schools from the Mid-State 38 Conference, of which Warren Hills is a member, and the Greater Middlesex Conference will honor Murray with a moment of silence before or during all games this weekend.
Teams will have the option of holding a moment of silence before kickoff or during a stoppage of play exactly 18 minutes (real time, not scoreboard clock) after the start of each contest, with the 18-minute mark reflecting Murray’s jersey number.
The helmet decals, which Riddell designed and is donating to approximately 6,000 players at more than 60 schools, displays a blue lightning bolt, symbolic of the Warren Hills Blue Streaks’ logo, piercing Murray’s No. 18 in white numerals across a black backdrop.
The idea for the tribute was the brainchild of Mid-State 38 officials, including Arthur L. Johnson Regional Athletics Director Gus Kalikas, in concert with Riddell Central Jersey sales representatives Scott Kaye and Michael Frauenheim.
“We just think that’s even more poignant and a nice memorial to honor him and stop the game,” Kalikas said of the proposed moment of silence 18 minutes into each contest.
“It’s only a football game. Sometimes we live and die with it, but something like this really puts things in perspective. Evan was a great football player and from all indications a great human being. I think it’s nice that all Mid-State 38 games stop at the same time in order to honor one of our former student-athletes that unfortunately passed.”
Voorhees will play at Warren Hills on Saturday at 7 p.m. in a game that was originally scheduled for the previous night, according to Voorhees Athletics Director Al Stumpf. The contest was supposed to be Warren Hills’ Homecoming Game, but the school district has postponed all homecoming activities until further notice, according to its website.
Murray died after being injured in a game against Summit on Friday night. Massive internal bleeding due to a laceration of the spleen caused his death, according to Morris County Medical Examiner Dr. Ronald Suarez.
Suarez determined Murray’s spleen was abnormally enlarged, making it more susceptible to injury. Suarez said there was no evidence of head trauma or heart disease. He classified the manner of death as accidental.
“As soon as we heard of this tragic situation, we started figuring out what we could do to support the family,” Mid-State 38 Conference President Nick Serritella said, noting representatives from his league will not stop at helmet decals and a moment of silence.
“We’ll discuss something we can do down the road, a memorial scholarship, possibly, so that this young man will not be forgotten.”
Murray is the nation’s third high school football player to die from injuries suffered on the field this month. A player in Louisiana died from injuries suffered after absorbing a hit on a punt return, while an Oklahoma player died eight days after being injured in a game.
“The high school athletics community, in my opinion, should always be looked at as a family,” GMC President Carl Buffalino said in explanation of his league members wearing decals to honor Murray.
“Even though Warren Hills is in a different league, the high school community still lost a member of the family. In support and out of respect to Evan and his family, this is the least we can do in the GMC to show our support.”
Mid-State 38 Conference and GMC schools previously wore helmet decals Riddell donated in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and following the catastrophic injury Eric LeGrand suffered while playing for Rutgers University.
More than 16,000 players from approximately 180 schools statewide wore No. 52 helmet decals in LeGrand’s honor in 2010, while players from the Mid-State 38 and GMC sported American Red Cross helmet decals in 2012.
“Riddell is a part of the football community and we are just hoping this little piece can help the Murray family and the Warren Hills family heal,” said Frauenheim, who is the son of legendary former Immaculata head coach Pierce Frauenheim.
Services for Murray are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.