SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (WNCN) – The Pinecrest Patriots football team played their first game of the season, just one week after a starting player drowned.
On Aug. 12, 16-year-old Mason Wagner drowned in Seven Lakes.
He’s teammates said it has been different for them on the field, but even without Wagner with them, he will always be a member of the team.
“We’re going to still be strong just for him, because he’d want us to be and play for him tonight,” said senior Patriots captain Mac Alston.
The team had been preparing for the first game of the season since last November, but Alston sayid something else was on their mind Friday.
“We can’t forget him, he was a big part of the team and he still is,” said Alston.
Alston played football and wrestled with Wagner but he said Wagner and the other players are more than just a team.
“We bond together – brothers,” he said.
And the team remembered their brother by wearing his name and number on their cleats and gloves, but the support went further than the locker room.
The school showed support in several ways.
Money was raised from a bake sale to go towards the family.
There was a moment of silence that swept the normally loud football field in Wagner’s honor.
And Wagner’s mother walked out with the captains to the 50-yard line for the coin toss.
Patriots head coach Chris Metzger said the support for Mason and his family will extend through the whole season.
“It’s not just we’re dedicated the season to Mason, it’s more like we’re motivated by Mason’s life and how he lived it.”
Pinecrest shutout Overhills, 34-0.