This week must have felt like it would never end for Wekiva (Fla.) High School's football program. On Tuesday, 15-year-old freshman Olivier Louis died while warming up for the Wekiva freshman team's practice. Three days later, the team's annual "Tater Bowl" rivalry matchup with neighboring Apopka High was delayed until Saturday morning after powerful claps of lightning struck Wekiva High stadium, sending two fans to the hospital.
According to OrlandoSentinel.com, the combination of traumatic events left Wekiva students in a state of shock.
"This is just crazy for this to happen and follow that up," Jonathan Bertrand, a friend of Louis who was near one of Friday's lightning strikes, told The Sentinel. "It feels like someone is out to get us."
WESH-TV and OrlandoSentinel.com both reported that one of the fans struck by lighting was Cato Mott, a 26-year-old former Apopka football player himself. The Sentinel later reported that Mott had recovered from the strike in time to attend Saturday's resumption of the matchup, in which Apopka eventually prevailed, 35-14.
"I have the ultimate testimony, got struck by lighting at 8:30, released from ER @ 12:00, back @ home and getting my praise and worship on @ 1:30," Mott, pictured above, posted to his Facebook wall. "God is good."
Wekiva coach Ty Parker, an assistant coach at Apopka from Mott's years with the program, told OrlandoSentinel.com that his former playerwas in good spirits just a day after being struck by lightning.
"Cato Mott is a fine young man who played whenRick and I were at Apopka," Parker said. "It was something that touched both teams [Friday] night. I did get to see him today, and he looked like the Cato I know so we're definitely glad he's OK."
By the time the Tater Bowl finally kicked off again on Saturday, the game itself seemed like an afterthought. Eventually, Apopka's dangerous running combo of Tom Smith -- who finished with 106 yards -- and Qua Barnes, who had two touchdowns, was too much for an emotionally drained Wekiva team to absorb.
"I couldn't be any prouder of my players for their ability to keep playing hard today after what they have been through this week," Parker told OrlandoSentinel.com.
Even in loss, Wekiva could take one positive away from Saturday's game: It served as the end of a very long week for a program ready to move on with their season. The Mustangs will have to deal with distractions for at least one more week, with Louis' funeral tentatively scheduled for next Saturday at an undetermined site.
By the end of the funeral, Wekiva will have gone through more emotional turmoil than many programs do across multiple years in less than two weeks.
Photo taken from Facebook.