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Days after star’s on-field death, team pledges to play Friday

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Just days after a star Mississippi running back collapsed and died on the field during a game, his teammates have pledged to play their next game on Friday night.

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D'Iberville football player Latrell Dunbar

D'Iberville football player Latrell Dunbar

As reported by the Associated Press and a variety of different Mississippi news outlets, D'Iberville (Miss.) High star Latrell "Fred" Dunbar collapsed during the third quarter of his team's game against fellow Gulf Coast school Gautier (Miss.) High on Friday. Dunbar was apparently returning to the huddle following a play when he collapsed on the field. After paramedics attempted but failed to resuscitate the running back with CPR on the field he was transported to nearby Ocean Springs Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A coroner has since ruled that Dunbar's death was caused by a form of heart failure, diagnosing the reason for his collapse as "an acute cardiac event."

Despite his being taken away by paramedics, Dunbar's teammates voted to continue the game, eventually pulling out a 17-14 victory. Immediately thereafter they were told that their teammate had passed.

"I've been in this a long time and I have always feared something like this would happen," 70-year-old D'Iberville football coach Buddy Singleton told the AP. "He was a great kid."

"I've been coaching a long, long time and it is, by far, the worst moment I've ever had," Singleton told The Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald, according to the AP. "The game really didn't mean anything."

Now, Singleton and his team have decided to push forward with the team's next scheduled game on Friday, despite dealing with ongoing grief following their teammate's passing. The game against Long Beach (Miss.) High will come a day after a memorial service for Dunbar set for 5 p.m. Thursday.

According to WLOX.com, the decision to play the game followed an emotional meeting between the team and Dunbar's father, who reminded the players that, "they have to go on, and they have to take care of business.  And, we're told his father said business begins in the classroom."

On Friday, the D'Iberville players will try to take care of business on the field, in memory of a fallen teammate whose departure they and their coach are still struggling to come to grips with.

"He was stumbling a couple of times before he fell," Singleton told GulfLive.com on Saturday, noting that he initially thought the running back had suffered from a concussion. "The trainers came out and rolled him over. When I came up, his eyes were open and he took a deep breath. And I think that was his last one.

"He blocked his man, and then a (defender) came across and hit him in the arm or shoulder area and knocked him to the ground. It was not a real hard hit or anything, nothing to the head or anything like that. ... We saw on tape that he got up and made about 15 steps toward where the play was being run and just collapsed."

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