Summit football still coping, although better, a year later

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - Here, Summit lines up on defense - at right - vs. Governor Livingston in last year’s home game before playing at Warren Hills. Although Summit won at Warren Hills 14-12 to improve to 3-0, the news of the game was that Warren Hills quarterback Evan Murray died later that night following a football injury (lacerated spleen) suffered in the game. The Hilltoppers, who were the opposing team that night, are still coping with what happened almost a year ago.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Here, Summit lines up on defense – at right – vs. Governor Livingston in last year’s home game before playing at Warren Hills. Although Summit won at Warren Hills 14-12 to improve to 3-0, the news of the game was that Warren Hills quarterback Evan Murray died later that night following a football injury (lacerated spleen) suffered in the game. The Hilltoppers, who were the opposing team that night, are still coping with what happened almost a year ago.

The Summit football team entered the third game of its 2015 season with a 2-0 record.
The Hilltoppers also came to Warren Hills with a highly-impressive mark of 67-4 (.944) since the beginning of the 2009 season.
Seeking to go 3-0, Summit would have no idea – nor would anyone else – what kind of tragedy that was going to occur that night.
Warren Hills senior quarterback Evan Murray’s injury – to the ultimate shock of everyone involved – proved fatal.
It was determined that Murray’s cause of death later that night was a lacerated spleen.
Warren Hills did not play the following weekend, but did finish its schedule and concluded a season where it qualified for the North 1, Group 4 playoffs with a record of 5-5.
Summit came away with a 14-12 win at Warren Hills to improve to 3-0. However, a three-game losing streak – Summit’s first since 2008 – followed.
The Hilltoppers did rebound to win three straight after its three-game losing streak and then competed in the North 2, Group 4 playoffs for the first time, falling in a close first-round game at Colonia 20-16.
Coping with a win or loss or something else related to the Xs and Os of football is one thing.
Young men, ages 14, 15, 16 and 17, having to cope with the death of a fellow player on the field is quite another.
“We started 3-0 and then the tragedy with Evan Murray happens,” Summit head coach Kevin Kostibos said. “It’s still a healing process with our kids.
“It just goes to show you that as important as football is to us, it’s minute in the scheme of life.
“When something like that happens, kids start to question themselves, ‘could that happen to me?’”
It took Summit nearly a month to really get back to competing like it normally does on the football field from a psychological standpoint.
“There wa s guilt and players were blaming themselves,” Kostibos said. “Some of our kids had never been to a wake or a funeral, especially someone their own age.
“At that point it wasn’t about football. It was tyring to come together as a team.”
That was the huge task in front of Kostibos and his staff following the events that took place the night of Sept. 25, 2015.
“I giv e out kids credit,” Kostibos said. “We were a mess right after that and I can’t even imagine how Warren Hills was dealing with it.
“It took us three weeks to get back to where we were. We had to explain to the kids that it wasn’t anyone’s fault.”
Assisting with that that chore were school guidance counselors.
“We had to begin coaching life and not just football,” Kostibos said.
Summit will host Warren Hills Sept. 24 at 1 p.m.

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