FHS grapples with tragedy
Oakman freshman collapses during game, later dies
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
Falkville High School Head Football Coach Jeff Miller has seen a lot of things in his 20 years of coaching. But nothing prepared him for last Friday, when a player on the opposing team collapsed and later died.
Oakman High School freshman football player Zach Upton, 14, collapsed as he was getting ready to take the field during the game against Falkville. He later died.
Upton collapsed around 9:45 p.m., just after he was told he would be entering the game on the next series of plays. He was attended to by paramedics at the scene, who determined he was not breathing and called for an ambulance.
Upton was transported to Baptist Medical Center-Walker where he was pronounced dead around 11 p.m.
An autopsy was preformed. Results were not available at presstime.
Miller said the first indication something was wrong came with 1:31 remaining in the third quarter, when he noticed a crowd forming on the opposing sideline. The officials came over to Miller and asked him to call his team off the field. After the Blue Devils got to the sideline, Miller rushed across the field to see what had happened and learned from Oakman assistant coach Tim Dunavant that one of their players had collapsed.
The minute was a somber one according to onlookers.
After Upton was removed from the scene, both teams gathered together and prayed for the fallen player.
As soon as the ambulance left the scene, game officials met with Miller and Oakman head coach Jeffery Bonner. The decision was made to cancel the remainder of the game. Miller says it was the only decision to make.
Tucker seemed to speak for all in attendance about continuing.
The Blue Devils reached Falkville on their return trip at around 11:30 p.m., unaware of Upton's condition.
Miller called some of his players on Sunday to see how they were doing. He described them as "still shaken."