Harrells Christian Academy Football Team Continues To Deal With Teammate's Death
Posted September 13, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT
HARRELLS — Will Johnson collapsed and died after making a tackle last Friday. His teammates at Harrells Christian Academy watched it happen and have decided not to play their next two games.
Letters, flowers and stuffed animals mark the spot on the football field where 17-year-old Johnson played his last game. His family and friends are still struggling to pick up the pieces.
"Why God decided he needed to take him while he was on the football field, we just don't know," says Will's father, Robert Johnson.
School administrators called a meeting Thursday evening in the school auditorium, inviting football players and their parents to talk about the incident.
"We do want to play football again. Our kids have expressed that," says Bron Thompson, school athletic director. "We are trying to build some confidence and get over some things and try to get some of the fear out of our minds.
Johnson's parents want to make sure the players deal with their son's death before moving on.
"We want them to first of all be healed, and then think about football," says Will's mother, Luanne Johnson.
Thompson says the team may condition one day next week without pads just so they can stay in shape.
The memorial at the school will be removed Friday and given to Johnson's family. The school plans to retire Johnson's number and name the new health gym after him.