Sapulpa Chieftains Remember Fallen Teammate

Thursday, July 28th 2011, 5:45 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Sep 4, 2010 12:33 PM CDT

Stephany Speck
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

SAPULPA, Oklahoma -- The crowd at the Sapulpa season opener was quieted Friday night, as the team remembered their late wide receiver, Justin Fitzpatrick, in a moment of silence. The 16-year-old teen died in a car crash the day before the Chieftain’s first game.

-Sapulpa High School Player Killed in Crash

In a time that is supposed to be about cheerleaders, school colors and the roar of the band, the teenagers that filled the stands realized the realities of tragedy.

The Chieftains took to the field on their first play with only 10 players, choosing to play one man down in honor of Fitzpatrick. Some of the teen’s teammates donned his number, etched on their forearms with pen and permanent marker.

"It symbolizes that I make sure I know that he's there with us and that he'll be on the field with us (Friday night)," said Chase Duke, a junior.

His locker served as makeshift memorial site with notes from his friends on the team. “We love you, we miss you,” one note said. “You inspire us,” another letter read.

Duke and his teammates played for No. 15 Friday night, earning the 25-19 win over the Ponca City Wildcats. They’ll continue to remember Justin Fitzpatrick long after the game, long after the season and long after the school year.

“I love him and I miss him,” Duke said. “He was quite the character. He was an outstanding person. We’ll miss him.”

Justin’s parents insisted the team play their season opener, telling the Chieftains their son would not want the game to be canceled.