Local News

Popular Student Leader, Football Player to Be Buried Thursday

Posted August 9, 1998

— Folks in the Harnett County town of Erwin are preparing to bury a popular high school athlete and student body president. Max Draughon, 17, collapsed at football practice last Saturday, and died the next day.

Services are scheduled Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at Triton High School in Erwin.

Draughon would have started his senior year Monday, the first full day of classes. He was practicing with the Triton High School team, which was preparing for the opening game Aug. 28 at Fuquay-Varina High School.

``Max went down to one knee,'' said Brooks Matthews, the assistant principal at Triton. ``He even told a player to help him up so he could finish his last sprint.''

But he began to lose consciousness and was taken to Good Hope Hospital. From there, he was flown to UNC Hospitals.

Matthews said school officials were told severe heat exhaustion was the cause of death.

Draughon, who played offensive and defensive tackle for the Hawks, was one of the most physically fit players on the team, said Matthews and coach Barry Honeycutt.

And the practice Saturday wasn't unusually strenuous, Matthews said. Draughon participated in one contact drill, took a five to 10-minute break, then started the sprints. The team took water breaks every 20 minutes.

``It's one of those unfortunate things that we can't explain,'' Matthews said. ``Nothing prior to this indicated to the coaching staff he was stressed in any way.''

The weather was very humid Saturday, but the National Weather Service in Raleigh said it did not record temperatures for Harnett County.

A crisis intervention team talked with students Monday. Many football players upset over the news that their teammate and student body president was dead. Teachers say Draughon was a natural born leader.

In addition to his football duties, Draughon also was president of the Student Government Association.

``Max was a very popular young man,'' said principal Dan Honeycutt. ``He was very well-liked and very much respected by the teachers and staff. Anyone would have wanted him as their son. This is very tragic for our school.''

In Ann Barrow's senior honors English class, students were silent Monday morning after taking their seats.

``I know you're hurting and we're going to talk about that today,'' Ms. Barrow said. ``It's something we need to deal with and talk about if you want it, but only it you want to.''

Many students wiped away tears but did not speak.

Survivors include his parents, Hubert and Leola, and a sister, Nicole.


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