James Island team, fans honor fallen family with No. 41
HANAHAN, S.C. (WCIV) - In Hanahan, James Islanders sported the number 41 to symbolize lives taken too soon. For the close-knit Trojan family, the summer has been an emotional one, losing two former football players.
For Sam Allen, Friday night football takes on a new meaning. It's a way to remember his son Tristen. The former linebacker and 2014 graduate at James Island Charter High School lost his life in a tragic diving accident earlier this summer.
"I don't think anyone can fathom what you go through when you lose a child. It's the darkest moment in your life. [Football] has been the only light we've had," he said. "It's been amazing."
Trojan head coach Ike Allred and the rest of the team wanted to pay tribute and retiring Tristen Allen's No. 41 jersey did not seem fitting.
But placing his number on the front of their helmets made sense.
"I think it's better to honor someone by putting their name or number on a jersey or helmet. Not only that but in future we would like to have the team or community vote on who should wear 41 in honor of Tristen," Allred said.
Sadly, the 41 also represents another life taken too soon.
Twenty-year-old Matthew Gaither was another former player to wear 41 on James Island's team. He recently died in a plane crash.
"He actually was the last individual who allowed Tristen to take the number when Tristen made varsity. Matt Gaither was the last 41. SO we lost Matt and then Tristen, last two 41," said Allen.
The James Island family imagines both are looking down on their team, rooting for their beloved Trojans. Each man is remembered every time the stadium lights up and the crowd goes wild.
There was some good news for the Trojans on their first regular season game. They beat Hanahan 29-27.
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