Byhalia football say goodbye to teammate hours before game

Byhalia football say goodbye to teammate hours before game
Mitchell's #66 is painted on the field at Byhalia High School. (Source: Facebook/Byhalia High School)
Mitchell's #66 is painted on the field at Byhalia High School. (Source: Facebook/Byhalia High School)

BYHALIA, MS (WMC) - Byhalia High School's football team took the field Friday afternoon in remembrance of their teammate who died during a game last week.

Visitation for Dennis Mitchell was held Friday for family and friends to say goodbye to their loved one.

"We love him. He will always be loved," Amanda Tadlock, whose son plays on the Byhalia team, said. "They're all one unit. The whole team is one unit, and they are all heartbroken."

Mitchell's visitation was from noon to 6 p.m. at Serenity-Autry Funeral Home in Holly Springs.

Tadlock said Mitchell touched many lives, including her own. She went to Mitchell's wake Friday to show him and his family how much people cared for him.

"He was a sweet boy. He was fun (always) laughing. Just carrying on with the other kids, but it's left a big hole in all of (their) hearts," she said. "Not only do we have that spot to fill that he played, which no one can fill it like he filled it, (but) it's the hole in our hearts that's going to always be there.

Tadlock was there a week ago at the game in Clarksdale when Mitchell collapsed after a hard hit on the field.

"Everybody was just scared and trying to do the best they could to try and bring him back. It was very, very heartbreaking," she said.

The football team was supposed to play at Center Hill this week, but both schools agreed to play the game at Byhalia to honor the 16-year-old.

The field has been painted with Mitchell's number 66.

He collapsed on the sideline last week after receiving a big hit. He had a seizure and later died.

Teachers Brittany Holland and Brenda Young collected money for the Mitchell family at the game.

"Warm. Funny. Always full of life. Always had others laughing. He was a really, really good kid," Young, who taught Mitchell last year, said.

"I think you just come together as a community, show support and be there for one another," Holland said.

Jacob Wilson, 11, who was actually at the game to cheer for the opposing team, made it a point to donate to the Mitchell family.

"I feel their pain. I lost my mother 3 years ago," Wilson said. "You know, I just feel their pain because they've lost someone very close to them and it tears them apart. Tears me apart to see this happening to someone else."

Byhalia players held up Mitchell's jersey and his helmet on the sidelines. In the stands, his friends wore custom T-shirts.

"We're the class of 2021. We're real close. We like to stay together. Losing Dennis is like losing family," student Devlynn Mitchell said.

Mitchell's funeral will be held Saturday at Byhalia High School's gym. His family will lay him to rest in Memphis.

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