Even the makers of "Friday Night Lights" would have dubbed this story too macabre.
Responding to an anonymous 911 call, police discovered the starting fullback on Denton (Texas) Guyer High's defending state championship football team fatally shot at a gathering in a neighboring town over the weekend, according to several media reports.
Senior fullback Nathan Maki, 18, who missed Thursday's season-opening 38-28 loss to Cedar Hill (Texas) High due to injury, was pronounced dead at Bowie (Texas) Memorial Hospital shortly before midnight on Saturday, the reports said.
Several people were present at the time of the incident, including a minor arrested for possession of alcohol, and police found a rifle at the scene, WFAA-TV reported. Teammate Tyler Smith told NBC 5 News that he believes Maki and friends were celebrating the opening of dove hunting season when Maki was shot accidentally.
"Our team, school, community, and most of all the family of Nate Maki, have suffered a great loss," a statement on the Guyer Wildcat Football Facebook page said, also announcing a fund to benefit the Maki family that will be set up on Tuesday. "In the meantime, please pray for the Maki family and our entire community."
Maki rushed for 155 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries as a blocking fullback for Guyer's 2012 Class 4A Division I state title team, according to The Dallas Morning News. He also hauled in seven catches for 88 yards and a score as a junior last season.
“The hardest thing about being a coach, you’re used to being able to fix stuff for these kids. That’s the hardest part about watching these kids,” Guyer running backs coach Oschlor Flemming told The Dallas Morning News. “You know you can’t fix it. That’s what makes it doubly hard for us as coaches in this program.”
The Wildcats reportedly canceled practices over the long weekend. Instead, coaches met with players to help deal with the loss, and a prayer service was held at the high school. Guyer is next scheduled to face Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High on Thursday.
"Football was everything to him," Maki's girlfriend of nearly two years, Peyton Bucklew, told NBC 5 News. "Those are his brothers out there. He would do anything for them. It will be hard, but I know Thursday they are going to go out there and play for him."
Meanwhile, the Montague County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Ranger Division are conducting an investigation into exactly what happened in that field on Saturday night.
"Those kids, or whoever was there, they have families, too, and I get that," Bucklew told WFAA-TV through a stream of tears, "but you just can't do that."