A high school football player died from a head injury he sustained at a playoff football game Saturday night. We take a closer look at brain injuries with a neurological experts from Barrow Neurological Institute.
(AP) -- The Hopi High School football team was in the midst of its
best regular season ever, going 9-1 into a playoff game against a
top-seeded team. Facing a complete shutdown, senior wide receiver
Charles Youvella caught a pass and scored the team's only touchdown in
the third quarter.
Well into the fourth
quarter in Saturday's 60-6 loss to Arizona Lutheran Academy, Youvella
fell hard on his head and collapsed a couple of plays later. He died
Monday at the hospital of a traumatic brain injury, the Arizona
Interscholastic Association said.
death was a somber end to a football season in which the players had
grown more enthusiastic about the game on the small northeastern Arizona
reservation. It also comes at a time when head injuries in football are
attracting attention at all levels of the sport. The Institute of
Medicine and National Research Council two weeks ago called for a
national system to track sports-related concussions and answer questions
about youth concussions.
The report said
250,000 people age 19 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for
concussions and other sports- or recreation-related brain injuries in
the country in 2009. That was an increase from 150,000 in 2001.
community memorial is planned Wednesday evening at the high school
auditorium in Keams Canyon. The high school has grief counselors on hand
and will release students early, if needed, to attend funeral services
later this week in Polacca.
Youvella died with this family at his side. His father, Wallace Youvella Jr., is the school's athletic director.
spirits were high earlier Saturday as the boys and girls cross country
teams won state titles, the boys extending the longest-running streak of
consecutive wins in the nation. About 250 of the Bruins' fans watched
the football team take on Arizona Lutheran in the first-round playoff
Head football coach Steve Saban said
Youvella was part of a batch of kids who had been playing for him for
years and had vowed to put in the work needed to become the standout
team in football, which isn't the most popular sport at the school. The
only loss the Bruins had this season was in overtime.
had just a beautiful season, best record in school history," he said.
"Down there in the state playoffs, it was just a great experience for
the kids. And then the terrible tragedy. It was just like a bad dream."
Hopi radio station, KUYI, was doing its first live remote broadcast of
an Arizona state playoff game when Youvella was hit. Broadcaster Stan
Bindell told listeners that Youvella went down but the extent of his
injury wasn't known. The game resumed about 45 minutes later after
Youvella was taken to the hospital.
of quiet here right now," fellow broadcaster Clark Tenakhongva said
over the radio. "But I told the people back here on Hopi, please have
him in our prayers and think about him, that it's not something serious,
that he will return back to football."
High School principal Glenn Gilman was on the sidelines encouraging
Youvella throughout the game. The Hopi players were tired and some of
them were cramping up, but they were unrelenting in moving forward,
"Charles really had a strong will and just never gave up, especially when it came to athletics," Gilman said.
said the initial call from an athletic trainer from Arizona Lutheran
was that Youvella, who also played basketball for Hopi High School, had
suffered a concussion. Emergency responders arrived about 15 minutes
after Youvella collapsed, he said.
officials kept the clock running under a rule that gets implemented when
a team is up by 42 points. The Arizona Interscholastic Association has
no mercy rule, nor does it match up teams based on their size.
Schmidt, the AIA's associate executive director and chief operating
officer, said the association would be gathering details from the
medical examiner and officials on site, and looking at its own response.
can't explain why it happened," he said. "We have too many people
drawing conclusions as to a play. Our focus right now is the family,
assisting them in the grieving process and making sure they have time to
Schmidt said an account will be set
up to help defray costs for the Youvella family. Hopi High School also
is accepting donations.
Arizona Cardinals wide
receiver Larry Fitzgerald reached out to fans on Twitter with a picture
of Youvella, asking them to pray for the teen's family, friends and
"The heart that he played with, the
tenacity, the passion - that spoke for itself," Saban said. "The young
kids, especially if they were bigger kids, they'd see this little, tiny
kid doing what he's doing. Charles led by example."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press modified.
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