Damon Janes, a 16-year-old high school football player from the small town of Brocton, NY has succumbed to injuries suffered in a game last Friday night. Janes was reportedly knocked unconscious after a helmet to helmet hit in a game against Portville. Early in the third quarter Damon scored on a 5-yard scamper, later in the quarter things tragically took a turn for the worse after a devastating hit. He was able to stagger off the field under his own power, but soon collapsed on the sideline and it became evident to everyone in attendance that the injury was far more serious than originally thought.  Play on the field was suspended as emergency personnel attended to him as he lay unconscious near the bench. He was rushed to Olean General Hospital before being transported to Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, where he died three days later without ever regaining consciousness.

This tragedy hits too close to home for this writer. Living in Western New York for the past 20+ years, I have seen how close knit these small communities like Brocton, Westfield, Ripley and Portville are. When something like this happens people in these communities come together like family. My three children all played multiple sports against Brocton through school and the class sizes are so small that everyone literally knows everyone else. There will be much made of this terrible situation, debates on the safety of the game, did he have a pre-existing condition that contributed to his death, etc. – None of that really matters – a young man is dead, his family, his community and the entire area is in mourning, we have lost “one of our own” way too early.  Rest in Peace Damon.