Rush Springs mourns loss of high school football player

RUSH SPRINGS-- Tragedy on the football field. A week and a half after 14-year-old Rush Springs High School football player Justin Barney was injured while making a tackle, he has died. His death is a difficult loss for his teammates and the entire community. At Friday night's game, the school honored Justin by painting his number 88 on the football field. He was also remembered by the crowd during a moment of silence.

On Saturday, students were still stopping by the football field to pay their respects to number 88. "I haven't got to say goodbye to him yet and neither have they. Well we just wanted to say goodbye," said Justin's friend Rebecca Parks. She says she's known him all her life and will miss talking to him. She says he was such a nice guy. "He was a really great guy, he was really fun to be around and if you had a question, you could always go to him. He was also really close to god."

Several people in town say they are finding it hard to cope with Justin's death. They say he was too young to lose his life and their hearts go out to his family. That message is echoed on signs at local businesses.

"I've spent most of my life here, in a way, and it's hard. Everyone knows everyone here. You see everyone is part of the family," said Karen Cecil.

Justin's coach says the entire community feels the loss and it's especially hard for his football players who will likely make the class playoffs next week. Justin's uncle, Jim Nottingham, tells 7-News they don't blame football for his death. They believe it was just a freak accident.