After teen's death, LI football team's season back on

UPDATE:

FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — A spokeswoman says a suburban New York high school where a teenager died when a log fell on his head in a football training drill will go ahead with the upcoming season, but with changes to the coaching staff.

Deirdre Gilligan, a spokeswoman for the Sachem School District, says the Sachem East High School will announce further details about the plans later Friday.

The changes were first reported late Thursday in Newsday.

Police say 16-year-old Joshua Mileto died Aug. 10 after a 400-pound log he and four players were carrying struck him on the head.

The accident occurred during a six-week preseason camp on school grounds on eastern Long Island.

A police spokesman says the death has preliminarily been deemed accidental.
Coach Mark Wojciechowski has not commented.

PREVIOUS REPORTING:

Balloons, flowers and Joshua Mileto's jersey number hang from the fence outside Sachem High School East in Farmingville, Long Island. The 16-year-old died during a football drill after he was hit in the head with a 400-pound log on August 10.

Parent Stacie Saunders is part of the Sachem community. While the district hasn't made a decision on the upcoming football season, she and other parents say going forward with the season is important for the kids and community. 

"We're all here for one another," Saunders said. "Obviously they should no longer hold that particular drill but in Josh's honor, I think that the students want to continue for him." 

But the rules may get in the way. According to the New State Public High School Athletic Association, football teams need 15 days of practice before their first game, which in this case is scheduled for September 1.

Section XI executive director Tom Combs said in a phone interview the decision is ultimately the district's but that cancelling the season would affect more than just the players. 

"It's much, much more than just the football team -- it's the band, the cheerleaders, the kick line and so on, as well as the parents," Combs said. "It's really a community event."

Hunter Reardon and Emily Tappin are helping bring everyone together. They've raised over $1,500 for the Mileto family by selling lemonade and iced tea. 

"I just wanted to help Josh's family out by raising a little money for them," Reardon said.

"I think it is worth it because you're helping other people," Tappin added.  

The district held a meeting with the team and parents calling it an important part of the healing process for everyone involved. The district isn't commenting on the future of the season but said it is an active investigation and at any given point any findings could potentially affect the team.

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