Kan. high school football player dies after game

By MARIA SUDEKUM FISHER Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—A northeast Kansas high school senior who died Friday after collapsing during a football game had sustained a concussion during a recent football game, his father said.

Nathan Stiles, 17, a linebacker for Spring Hill, Kan., left the game against Osawatomie, Kan., before half time Thursday evening. He collapsed on the sidelines, and was flown to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead early Friday. A cause of death was not immediately released.

Ron Stiles, Nathan Stiles’ father, said he was not certain what caused his son’s death. But he said Nathan had sustained a concussion in the school’s homecoming game earlier this month.

“He had a concussion several weeks ago from football, from that homecoming game,” Ron Stiles said. “He had the green light to play, and I don’t know exactly what all has happened there. The problem is that he definitely had the trauma.”

Stiles said “there wasn’t any type of malicious hit” during the game Thursday.

“There was certainly nothing that was done that was bad by any part of any player. I certainly don’t want that to be thought,” he said. “The last thing I thought we’d be doing is losing my son that night.”

Christine Splichal, spokeswoman for the Spring Hill School District, which is about 10 miles south of Kansas City, said the district had arranged for counselors to be available to students and staff Friday. About 587 students attend Spring Hill High School.

She said Stiles was “an extremely popular student and achieved in many different areas” and that his death was a “horrible tragedy for our entire community.”

“I am going to say he was a very well-liked student and will be missed horribly,” she said.

Rick Bowden, assistant executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, said he did not know if Stiles had a concussion. He said there are no rules governing when a player can return to play after being diagnosed with a concussion.

“We really leave that up to the physician,” he said.

Bowden said officials and coaches at the game Thursday did not remember seeing “anything to give them any indication he had suffered any type of head injury.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations said seven player deaths have been reported among its high schools so far this season, not including Stiles. Last year, 11 deaths were reported among the 1.1 million students playing in the NFSHSA’s registered programs.

Gary French, superintendent of Osawatomie schools, said he attended the Thursday game and that students and staff at Osawatomie also had been deeply troubled about Stiles’ death.

“I understand he was a tremendous young man. A great family,” French said. “There is concern with our entire football team. We have football team players who are taking it really hard. I can only imagine what’s happening with the Spring Hill players.

“We got a lot of tears.”

Stiles, who described his son as “very solid,” said Nathan had been involved with a couple area churches and often was willing to lend a hand.

“He was always very good about helping others,” he said. “I’m very proud of him.”