UPDATE: Bradley Central students mourn loss of popular football player
Students at Bradley County High School are grieving the loss of a classmate. 16-year old Jace Taylor died over the weekend.
UPDATE: The Bradley County Sheriff's Office has launched an investigation into the death of a 16-year-old student. It's still unclear how Jace Taylor, who played on the Bradley Central Bears Football Team, died over the weekend.
It was a tough first day back to practice on Monday, but the BCHS football team is standing together to honor their friend and teammate.
"This is Jace's jersey. He was #64," said Asst. Coach Todd Stevison, holding up the teen's jersey. "His family would like for him to be buried in this."
The incoming BCHS junior died over the weekend, in what has only been described as a "freak accident."
His coaches and teammates are having a tough time coping with the sudden loss.
"We all deal with it in different ways," Stevison said. "Our message to our football team tonight was that a man doesn't close up and push emotions away. A man deals with them. We encourage our guys to cry. We encourage our guys to talk to people."
The team will continue practicing as normal, but this week's practices are closed to the public to respect the team's privacy.
On Monday, coaches announced their upcoming season is dedicated Taylor.
"We just want to carry on his legacy," Stevison said.
The teen's legacy will live on, as his family chose to donate his organs. Five matches were found.
"Even in their loss, and even in their mourning, and even with trying to deal with all these different things, they're still thinking about other people, and how Jace's legacy could live out," said Mickey Clark, Team Chaplain.
Clark was one of hundreds who showed up at a candlelight vigil held at the high school on Sunday night. Taylor's parents were there, along with friends, classmates, and even students from rival schools.
"It didn't matter where they went to school. It didn't matter about the rivalries. Everybody came together," Clark said. "And that's what this community is about."
On the field sits a makeshift memorial with flowers honoring #64.
Coaches said Taylor had a strong faith. Now, his team is leaning on their own faith to get through.
"We're gonna rally around each other, and we're going to come together and make it through this as a family," said Stevison.
Taylor's funeral arrangements are as follows:
Visitation: Wednesday from 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Clingan Ridge Baptist Church
Memorial Service: Thursday at 2 p.m. at Clingan Ridge Baptist Church
Graveside service to follow at Lee Cemetery.
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Sixteen-year-old Jace Taylor died over the weekend.
Family and friends are expressing their love for Jace across social media.
Sunday night students and family gathered on Bradley Central's football field for a vigil for Jace.
Monday a spokesman for the Taylor family released this statement in regards to Jace's death,
"Scott, Angie, and Brooke Taylor are mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Jace, their beloved son and brother. Jace was a key member of the Bradley football team and was loved by all his teammates and everyone who met him. Jace lived a life filled with football, friends, fun, and good memories at the lake. This is a difficult situation that shows just how fragile life is, so Jace's church and community are rallying around his family. We ask the media to respect the family and friends by not questioning them. Instead, as a community, let's surround the Taylor's with the love of God and join them in seeking ways to honor Jace's memory."
Jace's legacy will live on as his family chose to donate his organs and 5 matches were found.
Tonight, we will honor the life of Jace Taylor with a candlelight vigil at the football field @ 9:30. Spread the word as we remember him. ????— #BCNATION (@THEREALBCNATION) June 19, 2016