Barnwell football team steps back on the field after teammate dies

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News 12 at 11, September 1, 2008

BARNWELL, S.C. --- The Barnwell High School football team is remembering one of their own, after a 16-year-old dies from heat stroke complications. Tonight was their first time stepping on the field after finding out their teammate, James Wooden, passed away.

"He was a good person. He always wanted to play football. He would be the first one dressed. Just ready to play ball. He loved the game," Corwin Roberts said.

16-year-old James Wooden, # 79 on the team, collapsed after practice Tuesday. James' football coach tells News 12 the high school junior died Sunday morning from complications from a heat stroke.

"My son made a statement. One minute he's on the line with me and now he's gone but, I try to tell my son, even though he might not be there in body, his spirit is still there." Debbie Thompson said.

Debbie Thompson's son is a junior at Barnwell High School and played on the football team with James. Monday was their first practice without him.

"They're a strong group of young men. And they have the backing of the parents, coaches, and the school," Thompson said.

And she says the team is holding up.

"It takes a lot of guts and a lot of courage to actually be able to come out here. This is the first stage. This is the first process of their healing. They know that they have to continue on," Thompson said.

Continuing on with # 79 painted on the football field where James loved to play.

"It's going to be pretty hard without him on the offensive line, but were going to try and pull through. And we're going to play this game for him and the rest of the season for him," Roberts said.

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