3 seriously injured in separate Bay Area high school football games; 2 players airlifted

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Five Bay Area high school football players were hurt Friday night in three separate games, including two students who were airlifted after suffering “traumatic injuries” and another who sustained a neck injury. 

Officials said the first injury was reported at Heritage High School in Brentwood around 8:30 p.m. The student was taken to John Muir Medical Center by helicopter in Walnut Creek to be treated for a head injury, per the East Bay Times.

Almost an hour later, a player at Freedom High School in Oakley injured his back. Emergency crews transported the young man from the football field to an adjacent soccer field, where a REACH medical helicopter took him to the same John Muir center as the first player.

And then in Benicia, three players left a blowout game due to injury, one of which involved a player’s neck. All three students injured play for St. Patrick-St. Vincent high, who lost to Benicia high 32-0.

Friday’s unfortunate news comes two weeks after the St. Pat’s quarterback was injured.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said St. Pat head coach Lane Hawkins, per Times Herald Online. “I tell the kids that it’s part of the game, number one. Number two, just keep loving on each other. 

“Nothing went right for us tonight. We’re just trying to get out of here, trying to get these guys home.”

The severity of the injuries for all five young men was not immediately available and their identities were not released. 

On the same day that at least two “traumatic” high school football injuries occurred, the athletic director at Mountain View High School published an opinion article in the Mountain View Voice regarding tackle football player safety. 

“High school athletics is my job and passion,” said Shelley Smith. “I really care about these kids and want to make our team as safe as possible, so we have taken several important steps to protect our young athletes.”

Smith details how the school’s football program adopted tackling standards established by the Seattle Seahawks, an NFL team. He acknowledges no tackling technique eliminates all risk. In response to this notion, the school sought out the best protective gear, which was purchased by a fundraiser put on by sports boosters. 

“We put sensors in each helmet so, when a player takes a hit, it is measured and transmitted to the coaches on the sidelines,” Smith said. “Even if a tackle doesn't cross a threshold, coaches can pull a player and check on them.” 

The football-related, head-trauma discussions are only getting louder. Smith says he's seen a decline in students trying out for football because of concussion risk concerns, but recognizes that young men still “want and need a ‘rough and tumble’” outlet. 

KTVU reached out to Hawkins for an on-camera interview, but the coach said he was too “emotionally drained” to talk. 

Bay City News contributed to this report.