Nate McCullough should have been elated and excited two hours before Thursday night's Rising Sun homecoming football game.
Instead McCullough, the team's quarterback, captain and a senior, was introspective.
The Tigers were playing their homecoming game against Patterson Mill. Five days before the game, Isaac Pfarr, #57, a 17-year-old player from the opposing team died suddenly at home.
It's hard to celebrate when the other team is grief-stricken.
"We have a game we have to win but we feel really bad for them. They're playing for him and it's going to be a tough game. We've never been through something like this before. It's definitely different," said McCullough.
So McCullough and the rest of the team decided to wear small stickers on their helmets. The stickers read "Pfarr #57."
"We kind of came together. It was one kid's idea and his mom had them (stickers) made up. We can't imagine what they're going through but we can feel it all the way over here. This makes you think. What if it happened to one of our kids? I can't imagine it," he said.
"The way this is set up, it almost takes the fun out of it. If we come out flat, they are going to be ready," said McCullough. "They want to win it for him."
Earlier on Thursday before the game, head coach Rich Opp was also thinking about personal loss. "My first grandfather died when I was eight in 1972. I didn't have to go to the funeral. I didn't deal with death until I was in my 20s," said the coach.
Opp said that working with the school administration and athletic director Ryan Crouse, it was planned that a tribute would be held for Isaac Pfarr. A moment of silence would be in his honor at the start of the game.
Opp also received an email from Patterson Mill Coach Steven Lurz sharing his team's plan. "He asked if they could take a delay of game penalty. He will send 10 guys on the field to honor #57. I will decline that penalty and make a gesture to decline it...This hasn't hit me yet, until this moment. I'm a parent and this is going to affect me as a human being. We will do everything we can to help them through this," said Opp.
Opp also said that no matter what the score of the game, there was a plan that the two teams would interact at the end of the game, and possibly join together for prayer or remembrance.
"I've dealt with this before. We lost a player Mike Wilkinson (in 1990). This game is like a microcosm of life. Rough times occur directly and indirectly. This is not directly our loss but we are affected as human beings. You're dealt these rough times. It's how you get off the canvas and regroup that counts," added Opp.
Patterson Mill won the game 45-26. Despite the loss, both teams joined together on the field for prayer afterward.