Football Legacy: Remembering Adam & Andrew Hughes
By Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter
MARION COUNTY (WRCB) - It's football time in Tennessee. Many of you count down the days until those Friday night lights start burning. In Jasper, TN. the community is remembering two fallen warriors.
It's been three months since Marion County was rocked by the loss of two star players.
Adam Hughes was driving his younger brother, Andrew, to school when he lost control of the car. Both boys were ejected and didn't survive.
Friday, as they prepare for their first game, the players tell Eyewitness News they're looking at the new school year and football season as a way to move on, without forgetting what's been lost.
Like every other school in the state, the excitement is hanging in the air at Marion County High School.
"It's our first game. Our first game of the season," say five senior players in unison Friday afternoon.
Unlike every other school, the senior players at Marion County High have a driving-force this season.
"There's going to be a lot of emotion," says senior Cody Griffith.
You can see it on their shirts, on their helmets but most of all on their faces. After losing a teammate, the senior class has bonded together in a way they never expected to.
"Andrew was the emotional leader for our team even as a junior," says Head Football Coach Troy Boeck.
Coach Boeck has spent a lot of time thinking about the 2010 football season. "This is a situation where after the accident, we knew as coaches it would either make us or break us. We would either come together as a team or be torn apart."
Andrew Hughes would have been a senior. He was going to wear his older brother's football jersey, number 72, this year. The number is now retired and it seems the boys' legacy has now become a rallying cry.
"I'm speaking, I guess, for all of us," says Jacob Barnes. "We'll go harder, push harder. Prove that we can do it for him and for us."
With several months removed from the accident, the school and community are starting the delicate process of moving on, but without forgetting.
Inside the 2010 football program are pictures of Adam and Andrew. The entire season has been dedicated to the brothers. As the players rush the field for the first game of the season Adam's two-year-old son will lead the way.
"Aside from the way the students were forced to quickly mature over the summer, they've had to realize you know that life is short," says Coach Boeck.
There's another way the students have changed.
"Lord no, I never buckled up before," says Cody Griffith.
According to the police report, Adam and Andrew would have survived if they'd been wearing seat belts.
Reporter: "Do you tell each other to buckle up?"
Players: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."
Reporter: "You guys are serious about it?"
"When we call each other to hang out now before we hang up the phone, it's be careful, buckle up'," says Barnes.