PREPS: High school football player dies in New York |

PREPS: High school football player dies in New York

Associated Press

HOMER, N.Y. (AP) – A high school football player died after he was hit during a varsity game in upstate New York and suffered a head injury, a death that stunned his school community and came at a time when youth sports are under scrutiny over whether enough is being done to protect players’ heads.

Ridge Barden, a 16-year-old lineman from John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, was face down after the play Friday and was able to sit up, but he complained of a very bad headache and collapsed when he tried to stand, authorities said.

“The coaches and trainers went over. He was talking. He rolled on his back by himself,” Phoenix School District Superintendent Judy Belfield said Saturday.

Birdlebough was playing at Homer, south of Syracuse. The hit came about six minutes into the third quarter during a play, Homer police officer Donald Warner said.

An ambulance took Barden to a hospital, and he was being transferred to a larger medical center in Syracuse when his condition deteriorated, Belfield said. The ambulance turned around, but doctors were unable to save the boy’s life.

Team coaches didn’t learn until after the game that his injuries were severe, Belfield said. She said the school community was distraught. Officials opened the high school Saturday to students or staff who wanted to talk about what had happened.

“It just one of those freak things,” she said. “The Homer players have to be feeling just as much sadness.”

The Homer Central School District posted a message on its website Saturday morning saying the community had been “deeply saddened and shares in the grief of the Phoenix School Community.”