The latest chapter in a season's worth of disturbing prep football deaths came Monday night, when Charles Youvella died from unspecified injuries believed to be related to a head injury suffered during his team's season-ending playoff loss on Saturday night.
As reported by AZCentral.com, among other outlets, Youvella suffered a head injury during the fourth quarter of his Hopi High (Kearns Canyon, Ariz.) team's 60-6 loss to Arizona Lutheran Academy (Phoenix, Ariz.) in an Arizona Interscholastic Association playoff game. The Hopi running back -- who was also a defensive starter -- caught a pass and was tackled in the open field on a very traditional stop.
What was unique about the incident was the way Youvella's head hit the turf as he fell when tackled. According to AZCentral, the teen bounced back up and remained in the game for two additional plays, but then collapsed on the field.
The Hopi student was immediately transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix and was still conscious when he was taken from the field, but his condition deteriorated on the drive to the medical center and he was considered to be in critical condition by the time he was admitted.
Two days later, he was dead, the latest to apparently fall prey to a tragic head injury in a prep football game.
Throughout the two days when he was in the hospital, Youvella was surrounded by family and other members of the Hopi High community, a factor which AIA Executive Director Chuck Schmidt made a difference for the family.
"He has a significant amount of family around him," Schmidt told AZCentral. "I can't believe the support up there. The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers."
While there is nothing that can bring Youvella back, Schmidt said that the AIA had already begun the process of setting up an account that would allow the public to contribute to a fund that would defray the medical costs now facing the Youvella family.
- - - - - - -