WESTMINSTER — It was necessary.
For all that happened during the week, the tragedy, the death, the injuries, the doubt, the shock, the sorrow, the void, the recovering ... competing in a football game for Legacy Lightning's players was the thing to do.
In fact, they were convinced about it.
Matt Craddock, acting as interim head coach while Wayne Voorhees recovers from a skull fracture suffered in the accident at Denver International Airport, has his reasons. And they came from his team.
Craddock said one of his players, Seth Hill, a center, put it best before the Lightning handled Prairie View 29-6 in Vlass 5A nonleague at a crowded Adams 12 North Stadium on Friday night.
They played the game, Craddock recalled Hill saying, "because he said it best ... one of the first questions was, 'Should we play this? I wanted to know the pros and cons and I want to hear it from you.'"
Craddock, speaking because district and school officials didn't allow access to any players to talk with the media, said Hill spoke about "Coach V always talked about reloading."
The kids wanted to play, Craddock said, "in (Voorhees') honor and there was no way they were going to keep us off the field."
Really, Craddock said, "it was one of those weeks that really tests you."
The aftermath has proved challenging. The shock of the death of the bus driver and how the accident occurred. Multiple coaches and players gradually left the hospital. Players were going through concussion protocol. There was debate whether or not the game should have been played.
But they did and it was worth it - recovery and well-wishes came throughout the community and time, as it usually does, added some ease to the initial shock.
Plus, Craddock said, "you could feel the energy from the stands to the locker room. There wasn't a bad word said."
Officials kept media members, from the Internet to television to print, penned in behind the south end zone. Before the game, representatives from the Legacy student body spoke about how kind surrounding areas were to their situation.
And Voorhees, in a text message sent to regular media members who cover his team, indicated he was on the rebound, but that it would be a slow process.
In the game, Anthony Lyle scored three touchdowns, two on pass receptions and another on a punt return, as the Lightning never trailed. Now 2-1, Legacy watched Prairie View (1-2) climb within 14-6 in the third quarter, but pulled away and never again seriously challenged.
Even when Legacy was pressed, Craddock said, "(his players) acted classy the way coach Voorhees would have been proud to see."
All told, he added, it was a beautiful thing to see."
Legacy 29, Prairie View 6
At North StadiumPrairie View 0 0 6 0 — 6
Legacy 14 0 8 7 — 29
Legacy — Anthony Lyle 11 pass from Alec Lewis (Bailey Mitchell kick). Legacy — Lyle 58 punt return (Mitchell kick).
Prairie View — Isaac Campbell 26 pass from Kierre Cazenave (kick blocked). Legacy — Lyle 25 pass from Lewis (Lynch pass from Lewis).
Legacy — Lewis 1 run (Mitchell kick).
RUSHING — Prairie View: Cazenave 22-36, Brewton 3-33, Villanyi 4-7, Bagley 1-1, Mittasch 1-0, Rodriguez 5-minus 3.Legacy: Simmons 18-113, Gonzales 2-12, Lewis 5-minus 27.
PASSING — Prairie View: Cazenave 10-24-2-84. Legacy: Lewis 16-28-0-172.
RECEIVING — Prairie View: Campbell 5-64, Reagan 2-9, Villanyi 2-5, Brewton 1-6. Legacy: Lyle 6-61, Smith 5-61, Lynch 4-44, Hansen 1-6.