Georgia High School football player dies just before the big game

 December 11, 2023

A high school football player from Georgia died on Sunday - the day before his team was to partake in the state championship game. 

The player, according to NBC News, is Brandon Smith. He was 17 years old.

Smith attended Manchester High School, which has made it to the Georgia 1-A State Football Championship.

Meriwether County School System, of which Manchester High School is a part, confirmed Smith's death in a letter that it sent to parents over the weekend. The letter, in part, reads:

We are heartbroken to hear the news of the tragic and untimely death of one of our student-athletes, Brandon Smith.

What happened?

At the time of this writing, authorities have not released much information about Smith's passing.

Fox News reports:

The cause of Smith’s death was not announced. According to 11 Alive, his body was found earlier Sunday evening. Manchester authorities were investigating his death and reportedly requested the assistance of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Meriwether County School System, in its letter to parents, also wrote, "The circumstances behind this tragedy are still being investigated and will be shared publicly by local authorities."

In the meantime, the local community is remembering Smith.

In its letter to parents, the school system wrote, "Brandon was a loyal teammate and friend who excelled on and off the field. He will be deeply missed."

The state championship

Newsweek reports that Smith was set to play a big role in the state championship game.

Per the outlet:

Smith had been due to star in the Georgia 1-A State Football Championship on Monday, playing for Manchester High School against Bowdon High School at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is used by the NFL's Atlanta Falcons for their home games. The match had been particularly eagerly anticipated because it was his school's first championship game since 1997, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

NBC reports that the game is still expected to be played. Smith's team, the Manchester Blue Devils, will be facing off against Bowdon High School. Per the outlet:

The game, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta, will still be taking place, a spokesperson for the high school said.

Meriwether County School System, in its letter to parents, wrote: "Manchester High School's celebration of playing for the Georgia 1-A State Football Championship has unfortunately turned into something none of us could have fathomed."

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