New Albany High School has lost its share of football games in recent years, but its biggest loss may have come in June.
Team leader and starting linebacker Marshuan Braxton died this June while on a missionary trip to Costa Rica. The 17-year-old, who would have been a senior this fall, was swept out to sea when a large wave had crashed upon the rocks he and others were standing on while viewing the Pacific Ocean.
“He was our team leader,” said Bulldogs head coach Ron Price, who was getting ready to begin his second season at the helm when the news hit. “He would have been our team captain this fall.”
Braxton was much more than that to the rest of New Albany High School.
“He was a great athlete and a great football player,” Price said. “He was also involved in so many activities at the school. He was in the chorus and he had a beautiful voice. He was part of the annual staff and was a class officer.
“I don’t see how the kid had enough time to do everything he was doing. He was 100 percent in everything he was doing.”
Price said Braxton had a great spring practice and a great spring game, and had been to every summer workout prior to leaving for Costa Rica.
“He was doing an outstanding job,” he said of Braxton, who would have seen a lot of time at the fullback and running back positions this fall. “He was coming into his own and making so much progress as a football player.
“He was an outstanding young man.”
His coaches and teammates may have headed into the 2009 season as winners of only three games in each of the past two seasons, but Braxton was one to set high expectations, no matter the circumstances, for himself and for others around him.
“We’ve dedicated this season to Marshuan, and we want to live up to his expectations because he set a pretty high standard for himself and for us,” Price said. “We want to make him proud.”
The Bulldogs will be wearing No. 7 decals on their helmets in honor of Braxton, who would have worn that number his senior season.
“We do want to make him proud, and that’s our goal this year,” Price said.
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal