BROCTON, NY - Two small communities are somber. Brocton and Westfield are mourning the loss of Damon W. Janes. The 16-year-old high school football player died after an injury sustained during a game.
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There is a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening at the Brocton High School football field. On Friday evening, 200 sky lanterns will be released to honor the teen. The lanterns are being sold for $3. There is a spaghetti dinner memorial benefit on Sunday, September 29th at the Nickel Plate Depot in Brocton.
Damon Janes was a junior on the Westfield/Brocton varsity football team, who succumbed to injuries suffered during a football game against Portville Friday night.
A statement was released by the Women and Children's Hospital Monday afternoon.
Damon W. Janes, 16, a Junior who attended Brocton Central School, lost his fight and went to be with the Lord following his injury resulting from helmet-to-helmet collision during a Westfield/Brocton varsity football game.
His parents wish to express their gratitude to those who have supported and prayed for Damon and his family, and continue to request that their privacy be respected at this time.
Meanwhile, he tragedy may be leaving many in Western New York, particularly the parents of athletes, wondering about the safety of football.
Most any football coach will tell you that while it may not be spoken, it's tacitly understood, that in contact sports, there's always a chance for severe injury. But even those with a long association with the game say when it comes to an actual death from a football injury, it's something totally unexpected.
Len Jankiewicz, a football coach and athletic director for 35 years, is --like most others--grieving Damon's death with a heavy heart.
He says while the risk of injury or worse can never be entirely eliminated, you can try and mitigate the chances of tragedy, particularly with teaching players not to lead with their heads, in hopes of reducing of helmet to helmet hits.
"Thee only thing we can do, is make sure that the techniques are safe, are are sound, and are certainly repeated enough, so that in a situation, the player will revert back to what he was taught," Jankiewicz told 2 On Your Side.
"The so called "heads up" method of tackling is now being taught to players at the youngest levels, and in fact is mandatory teaching for coaches of youth football, throughout Western New York.