Warren County football has certainly taken it on the chin over the past 25 years, but fortunately for the Pioneers all of their losses have involved being on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
We learned Friday night at Nunley Stadium the outcome of the game isn’t always the most important priority.
Prayer requests continue for Baylor Bramble, a 16-year-old Siegel football player who collapsed near the end of Friday’s game against the Pioneers. Based on the most recent updates from his church’s Facebook page, Baylor remains in critical condition at Vanderbilt Medical Center after undergoing emergency brain surgery early Saturday morning.
Details of exactly how the athletic and fit-looking teen was injured remain sketchy. There wasn’t a crushing hit that caused him to receive medical attention on the field. Instead, he came to the sideline near the end of Friday’s game and complained his head was hurting. Siegel coach Greg Wyant said the situation quickly spiraled downhill as it became apparent Baylor was suffering from more than a headache.
This somber situation comes as football-related deaths are grabbing national attention. A 17-year-old Chicago player collapsed while walking off a football field Thursday night and died Friday, bringing the total of high school football deaths to seven this season.
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, an average of 12 high school and college football players die each year. Head trauma isn’t the culprit in most cases, data shows, but rather sudden cardiac arrest. That’s why there’s a push to implement mandatory electrocardiogram screening in high school athletic programs in hopes this test will catch a possible health problem before it turns fatal.
For those of you who may be wondering, Warren County is on the front end of this push as WCHS instituted such a policy about four years ago. Every WCHS student is given an EGK screening before they are allowed to participate.
“At the time we instituted our program, we were the first school system in the state to make it mandatory,” said WCHS certified athletic trainer Tim McIntosh. “It really is amazing how it all fell into place.”
Warren County EMS employees donate their time to administer the EKGs and Saint Thomas River Park provides the machines which are transported to WCHS for the screenings. Doctors with Saint Thomas Heart then read the EKGs for free.
Our school system deserves great praise for instituting such a screening program in an effort to keep our young athletes as safe as possible. There are always going to be some inherent dangers with sports competition, but it’s reassuring to know our school officials have made player safety a top concern.
We realize just how vital such testing can be when a young man is fighting for his life after an incident on our football field. My prayers go out to Baylor Bramble and his family.