It was an emotional night in Monroe on Friday. The Bedford Mules football team took the field just two days after one of their players, 17-year-old Colton Durbin, was killed in a traffic accident.
There was talk of canceling the game, but that didn't happen. Durbin's family wanted the game to go on.
"I've been wearing many hats the last three days," said Jeff Wood, coach for the Mules. "I've gone from head football coach, to teacher, to mentor, to counselor."
The team entered the field surrounded by a human tunnel of fans. They were led by the grieving parents of Durbin.
Each player paid special tribute to their late teammate. Durbin's jersey number, three, was placed in the horseshoe of their helmets. The back of the helmets read "CD3."
"I don't know how to explain it. Best guy I ever knew," said student Brett Anstein about Durbin.
The home team, Monroe Jefferson High School, also honored Colton.
"Some of our kids have put the young man's initials in their eyeblack and wristband," said Coach Bruce Pickens.
For the coin toss, Bedford players carried Durbin's jersey to the center of the field. The announcer read the starting lineup, saying, "Starting for the Lord in heaven will be number three, Colton Durbin."
After a difficult week, it was time for the Mules to play football. They say it was what Colton would have wanted.
"They're upbeat. They're very sad, very broken, but they're very much a solid family," said Julie Whyte of the Mules Moms Football Club. "They're going to go out there tonight and do their best for Colton."
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