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Community grieves after death of S.C. prep football player

12:20 PM, Oct. 06, 2012 EDT

Flags are flying at half-mast in South Carolina after a high school football player died during a game on Friday night.

Ronald Rouse, a 6-foot-3, 320-pound senior lineman for Hartsville, collapsed on the sideline after being involved in a tackle during the first half of the Red Foxes' game against Crestwood.

EMS crews worked to revive Rouse before transporting him to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the Morning News.

The two teams played the remainder of the first half, Hartsville held its halftime homecoming ceremony, and the remainder of the game was canceled. Many people immediately made their way to the hospital, where they learned the news.

A large crowd, which included players still wearing their football uniforms and girls in homecoming dresses, cried and hugged one another outside the emergency room at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center. Parents and family members consoled the students and teammates as they waited to share their grief with the Rouse family.

Counselors waited for the team's return Friday night and will be available to the student body at the school on Monday, according to WLTX.

Outpourings of support and remembrances of Rouse flooded social media and elsewhere late Friday. Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington ordered flags in the small city to be flown at half-mast. On Saturday morning, he tweeted: "I got a text this morning from a number I didn't recognize but it resonated. It simply said: We are, Red Foxes -- We are, Rouse Foxes."

Afghanistan war vet honored

An Army sergeant who was grievously injured in Afghanistan was honored at the homecoming game in his hometown of Vassar, Mich., on Friday.

Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills was back in Vassar for the first time since losing "parts or all of his arms and legs while serving on his third tour duty in Afghanistan," according to MLive.com.

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After a pregame ceremony honored vets, the crowd roared as Mills, riding in a camouflage golf cart with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, was introduced. He was presented with a number of items, including a flag, a handmade Eagle sculpture and a Vassar jersey with his high school number on it.

Avella falls, but still inspires

On Thursday, the New York Times told the story of a southwestern Pennsylvania football team that has reversed its fortunes after years of struggle -- and inspired its community in the process.

Avella, which hasn't had a winning season since 1994 and hasn't made the playoffs since 1976, is assured of doing at least the former this year after winning its first five games.

The Eagles suffered their first defeat on Friday, a 20-13 loss to Frazier, but the team is still well-positioned to make a playoff run. And no matter what happens the rest of the way, the team that won just nine game between 1997 and 2008 is a source of pride for players and fans alike.

The turnaround can be credited in part to the team changing conferences, but perhaps more important has been the change of culture. After going 0-9 in his first season in 2011, head coach Ryan Cecchini instituted an offseason regimen, harder practices and stricter rules. In short, both players and coaches are accountable, and they responded by winning in mostly dominant fashion. The town has responded in kind, upping its attendance -- and intensity -- each week.



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