PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Teachers and students at Pearl River Central High School in Carriere are planning memorials to honor the life of a classmate taken too soon.
Shane Smith, 16, a stand-out player on the football team was killed in an automobile accident off of Highway 589 near Purvis Friday. His grief stricken coach said it's a big loss to the team and to society.
"Fly High 15" is the memorial message posted on a fence in-front of Pearl River Central High by his team and classmates. Fifteen is the number Shane Smith wore on his football jersey.
"You can't put into words the grief we all felt," said Eric Collins, head coach of the Pearl River Central Blue Devils.
Collins said the 16-year-old athlete had a promising future on and off the football field.
"If you had a kid and you wanted him to be like somebody, the person you'd want him to grow up like is Shane Smith. Just a great kid. 'Yes, sir. No, sir.' All the teachers loved him; all the coaches loved him," Collins recalled.
Coach Collins said Smith was an outside linebacker for Blue Devils who discovered he had talent on the ballfield at an early age. In fact, he said the 10th grade student was in this year's starting lineup for the varsity team.
"When he was in 8th grade, he was practicing with the varsity. So he was tenacious, he was hard-nosed, but yet he was a kind gentle and loving kid and certainly going to be missed," explained Collins.
Several memorials and symbolic gestures are being planned to honor the life taken to soon. They include the number 15 will be worn on each of his teammates football helmets.
Collins said, "We're going to set his locker up as if it was a game day, and put some plexiglas on it, and use that as a memorial in our locker room. And there will be some other things that we do."
When the students return to school next week after their summer break, grief counselors will be on hand to talk to those having trouble coping with the loss. A wake and funeral service are planned for Shane Smith Wednesday.