Raleigh High School football player Isaiah Strickland died in a car accident Wednesday morning, according to Lions coach Ryan Higdon. The 17-year-old was a starting defensive back for Raleigh and had 22 tackles and two fumble recoveries this season.
Strickland is the third Mississippi high school football player to die in an auto accident since August 2.
"He was a great kid," Higdon said. "The young man had an infectious smile. (He) was always smiling, and always seemed to be in a good mood. Everybody at this school loved him.
"He was just a very likable, well-respected young man."
Strickland joined the Lions football program last spring and immediately made an impact on the coaching staff, according to Higdon. Raleigh (4-0) is coming off a trip to the MHSAA Class 3A semifinals last season. Strickland earned a starting role this offseason and a player-coach "knew he was going to be there and do his job".
Raleigh travels to Madison-Ridgeland Academy (4-2) at 7 p.m., Friday after practicing on Wednesday. Higdon believes football will be a release for his players as the program and community grieves after Strickland's death.
"It gave them that release from what was going on in the moment," Higdon said. "They knew. I told them we were going to play. There was no doubt in my mind ever, that we were going to play the ball game.
"That's where our guys want to be and our team is really close."
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Raleigh High School football player Isaiah Strickland died in accident