MOORE — Billy Langford has experienced many things during his time in football. From his days as a player growing up to his current job as the Westmoore’s head coach, he has seen a lot.
But Friday he was part of something he wishes didn’t have to take place. His Jaguars took on Edmond North the same week the Huskies lost a teammate to a possible football related injury.
“It’s a credit to the coaching staff and their kids,” Langford said. “To come out here and play in honor of that young man. It was a pretty touching night to even be on the other sideline. Never been through that. Hopefully I’ll never have to. Can’t imagine what they are going through.”
Ryan Smith was a 16-year old sophomore at Edmond North who broke his leg at practice Tuesday. He was taken to OU Medical Center. According to published reports, he was treated then released that night.
The next day Smith’s family was unable to wake him. He was then taken to Intergris Baptist Medical Center where he died at 10:33 p.m. Wednesday. No cause of death given at the time.
Two days later North was at Moore Stadium grieving, trying to understand exactly what happened to their teammate and also trying to win a game.
“I think it was extremely important for us to play,” Edmond North coach Jeremy Dombek said. “Everybody is going to grieve in their own way. But if you can get back to some normalcy, then I think it’s the best thing for our kids. I am at a loss for words.”
Huskies athletic director Tom Snyder said they had discussed postponing the game. But felt it was best for the players to stay in their normal routine.
“There were thoughts of moving it,” Snyder said. “But with it being a district game, you have to play it. That’s a tough question. We decided let’s continue on. It turned out to be a good decision. For the kids, I think today would have been awkward if we didn’t play.
“I think this is going to be part of the healing process.”
It wasn’t just the Huskies who had to deal with the tragic lost. Even though most of the Westmoore players had no idea who Smith was, his death still hit hard.
“Even just hearing it from them, it’s really heartbreaking for someone that young to lose their life,” Westmoore’s Josh Morgan said. “Like our coach said, there is still a football game that has to be played. We just have more respect for what happened.”
The Jaguars did more than respect what happened. Besides having a moment of silence for Smith before the game began, the Westmoore football booster club passed around collection buckets throughout the night. The proceeds went to a fund the Edmond North booster club set up at the Citizens Bank branch on Coffee Creek Road to help Smith’s family with burial costs.
“It’s a testament to our community,” Dombek said. “Not just our whole school, but what Edmond Santa Fe and what Memorial and even Westmoore did. It kind of puts everything in perspective. And kind of shows what high schools sports are all about.”
Michael Kinney 366-3537 firstname.lastname@example.org