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Chapel Hill players, fans remember Fraley

Posted August 22, 2008

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— Chapel Hill high school players and supporters remembered a former football standout on Friday night during the team’s season opener at Cedar Ridge.

Atlas Fraley, 17, was a senior offensive guard and defensive tackle on the Chapel Hill High School football team.

Fraley’s parents found him unresponsive on Aug. 12 at the family’s home at 202 Fan Branch Lane. They were unable to revive him. The state medical examiner's office has not issued a cause of death. Fraley had participated in a football scrimmage that day.

Orange County Emergency Management Services and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are investigating Fraley’s death.

Although Friday night’s game was played at the opposing team’s field, Cedar Ridge honored Fraley with a moment of silence before kickoff.

Fraley’s teammates wore No. 90, the number the teen would have worn this season, on their game helmets. Chapel Hill players and supporters plan to wear the number all season as a way to keep Fraley's presence felt on the sidelines and the field.

“We’re going out every Friday night and play as hard as we can and we’ve dedicated not just this game but the whole season to Atlas Fraley,” Chapel Hill athletic director Ronnie Hayes said.

David Fraley, Atlas’ father, said the tribute to his son makes him feel great.

“I know he’s looking down, smiling and supporting his team, still. Even though he’s not here in body…he’s here in spirit,” David Fraley said.

David Fraley said he will miss nightly conversations he and his son used to share.

“I would always wait until he got home. We would talk about football practice or whatever. That’s one of the biggest things right now – I can sit and wait, but I know he won’t be coming,” David Fraley said.

David Fraley said he and his wife are grateful for the support they've gotten from the entire community. The Fraleys plan to attend every football game this season because Atlas Fraley’s mother is the cheerleading coach at the school.

Fraley’s best friend and teammate, Rodney Torain, described Fraley as a brother to him. The two had been friends since elementary school.

“Atlas was the type of guy who brought out the best in everybody. If you were going through something, you could talk to him, you could count on him,” Torain said Friday night.

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