Damon Janes, a 16-year old junior, lost consciousness after the devastating hit in a game on September 13. The star running back died three days later. Since then the team has struggled with the memory of a lost teammate — whose motto was "Giving up is simply not an option" — and the heartbreak to carry on the season without him.
The Wolverines' varsity players took a paper-ballot vote and decided that the pain was too great, that their season would end after just two games.
"The pending motion was shared with players from both teams at a team meeting on Monday," a statement on the school’s website reads. "During the meeting, players shared creative and positive ways to honor Damon Janes through our athletic programs and school communities for the remainder of the year and into the future. This will be a student driven effort and allow Damon’s friends and teammates to continue the grieving process off of the playing field."
The school board voted on a recommendation made by the superintendent to cancel the rest of the football season earlier this week. The school board voted unanimously in favor of the decision.
“We are not giving up Damon’s legacy,” Superintendent David Davison said, according to The Observer. ”We are taking time to heal. Our players need time to grieve and have time to be together away from the lights and games for a while.”
For some parents, it is too little, too late. To many adults, the dangers were obvious even before Damon's death. They complained that poor officiating, with no penalty calls on late hits, made it only a matter of time before ball carriers like Damon got hurt.
"That whole game was plagued with late hits and people using their helmets to spear other people," said Sam Villafrank, Joey's father. "It was like anything goes."
The importance of safety for players continues to be at the forefront of sports these days. If putting the rest of the season on the shelf saves just one more player from serious injury, then it is clear that canceling the season was the right decision.