BYHALIA, Miss. — Byhalia High School is mourning the loss of a beloved football player who died after collapsing at Friday night’s football game.
Sophomore Dennis Mitchell, 16, collapsed on the field during an away game in Coahoma County, according to a post on Byhalia High School’s Facebook page.
Friends, fellow students and teammates met at Byhalia High School’s football field Saturday morning to share memories and grieve together.
“We are just super, super sad to have this happen,” said Christa Linville, who’s known Mitchell since he was in elementary school. “No day, of course, is promised. So, I’m just hurting more for my daughter than I am for myself right now.”
Linville’s daughter dated Mitchell off and on for nearly two years.
“I just can’t believe he’s gone. I just loved him so much,” said 15-year-old Abbigaile Smith.
Kyla Elliott described Mitchell as the brother she never had.
“I loved him so much. Now the fact that I can’t see his face no more,” she said.
#BREAKING: Byhalia High School confirms 16-year-old football player Dennis Mitchell has died after collapsing on the field during last night’s game at Coahoma.
— Nina Harrelson (@NinaHarrelsonTV) August 25, 2018
Exactly what happened to Mitchell is still a mystery.
“He got off the sidelines and he was sick,” Linville said. “He was saying he didn’t feel good, but just the type of person that he is, he didn’t want to let his team down, so he continued to keep playing. And it just spiraled downhill from there.”
Mitchell’s family was in Memphis when they got the call.
“I started praying,” his sister, Toni Mitchell, said. “I was just thinking, ‘My brother’s strong. He’s going to get through this.’ Because he always do.”
But by the time they got to the hospital, Mitchell was gone.
“My mama, she’s been crying all night – since 9 o’clock last night. My dad, he’s been crying. They’re not handling it well at all,” she said.
Friends say Mitchell had dreams of one day making it big and taking his talents to the NFL.
“He would have gone far,” Linville said. “He was very good in school, he was very smart. No matter if he played football or didn’t play football, that boy was going places.”
As they try to cope with their grief, Mitchell’s family and friends say they don’t know how they’ll accept the fact that he’s gone.
“Everybody has their time, but it was just too soon. Just too soon,” Smith said.
Funeral arrangements haven’t been made yet.
Loved ones are meeting back on the field Monday at 6 p.m. for a memorial and balloon release in Mitchell’s honor.