E-Rabs press on with their season while trying to honor their former teammate Mason Hada

High School Football

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — It was two weeks ago this evening when members of the Rockford East football team learned that they had lost one of their teammates. Mason Hada died in an auto accident after leaving practice. The E-Rabs have pushed on playing both of their games since then, always keeping Hada in their thoughts.

Playing a physically demanding sport like football is challenging enough in the best of circumstances. Playing it and practicing it with heavy hearts is almost unimaginable, but the E-Rabs have managed to press on.

“That’s a testament to our kids. We’ve got some tough kids,” said East head coach Gary Griffin.

“It wasn’t nothing easy, like it was actually hard for most of us who was really close to Mason on the team, but we stayed on topic because we know Mason wouldn’t want us to be down playing sad,” said East cornerback Jaden Davis.

Hada’s funeral was this past Monday. Most of the players and coaches attended. Tuesday they were back at practice.

Cornerback Sam Young says attending the funeral was helpful in helping the players process what had happened to their teammate.

“It really helped, it really helped because we got to talk to the family and we got to see him his final moments.”

Coach Griffin has been through this type of sorrow too many times in his coaching career in Rockford and in Milwaukee.

“This is the seventh kid that I’ve lost since I’ve been a head coach, so it’s been, they’ve all been different. Different situations you know, but this is the first one that, that’s really happened during the season. You’re talking to the kid one minute cracking jokes with him, and then he’s in Heaven 15 minutes later. I mean, it’s just one of those things you can’t be prepared for.”

A memorial that was made under one of the practice field goal posts the night Hada died is still there, and it’ll remain there.

“Absolutely!,” said Griffin. “It ain’t going anywhere.”

“That’s important because every day we come out here and see what we’re working for,” said Davis.

The E-Rabs want to make Hada proud of them. That’s what pushes them. That’s what pushed them on opening night barely more than 24 hours after Hada passed when they battled at Belvidere North before losing by only two points. Last week they won big at Belvidere. Football is somewhat therapeutic for the E-Rabs.

“It’s helped our kids I think help get over it and help move forward,” said Griffin.

“We really want to work for Mason,” said Young. “Mason worked hard out here, so we’re just working hard out here in honor of him.”

“We’re going play our hearts out the whole season with everything because that’s what Mason would have wanted,” said Davis.

This Friday night the E-Rabs will play their hearts out again when they host Auburn.

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