HORN LAKE, MS. (localmemphis.com) – Heavy hearts, tears and a ceremonial walk around the track tonight for a well liked Mississippi high school football player who unexpectedly died this weekend.
17-year-old Jaquarius Harper, a senior linebacker at Lake Cormorant, died Saturday morning, according to school officials, just hours after he competed in what would be his final game.
Students and staff now prepare for a difficult week ahead.
About 300 Lake Cormorant HS students, staff and community members joined together and lit candles during Sunday night’s vigil for Harper.
In a prayer, a teacher said, “We are at a loss for a young man who has touched so many lives.”
Those at the vigil honored Harper by walking one lap around the football field track in silent solidarity.
Teachers and friends described Harper, nicknamed Tootie since he was a boy, a smart and gracious young man.
Teammates said they’ll use his death as motivation the rest of the football season.
“That’s the number one concern right now is our players and the school and his family obviously, just being there for them and seeing whatever we can do as a staff and as a community and as a school to be there for our students and our athletes,” Lake Cormorant High School Football Coach Nick Nester said.
“Tootie, there was never a dull moment with him, you just never, you wouldn’t think no one like that would happen, he didn’t deserve that, nothing about that he deserved, the reality hasn’t hit me yet,” Harper’s teammate R.J. McDonald said.
The exact circumstances and cause of Harper’s death haven’t been confirmed, despite multiple calls to DeSoto County authorities.
Lake Cormorant’s principal said eight to 10 grief counselors will be at the school Monday.