ALTO, TX (KTRE) - Schools from all over East Texas are coming together to support the Alto community just days after a football player died.
Cam'ron Matthews died Saturday after suffering an aneurism. Matthews collapsed last Friday right before halftime in a game against Carlisle. In the days following the death, players from rival schools have stepped up to honor Matthews. Groveton has been a rival with the Yellowjackets for years. When the Indians travel to Lovelady Friday, they willl carry the memory of Matthews with them. The team will be wearing a yellowjacket sticker on their helmet.
"Sometimes you get caught up with a football game for goodness sake that when something like this happens it reminds everybody what it is really all about," Groveton Head Coach Brandon Craus said. "I was not surprised when the players came up to us and said they wanted to do it. We didn't even have to ask them to do anything."
The players said they did not want to pass up an opportunity to show respect for another teenager.
"Yea there is a rival between the schools," Groveton Running back Nicholas Martinez said. "Football, baseball, track, but you don't have a rivalry on certain people. Everybody deserves a chance."
The team is on the road for now but at their next home game, the Indians will have a special yellow ribbon painted on the field.
When Garrison and Crockett meet up this Friday in Nacogdoches County, the maroon paint will be replaced with black and gold. The team has painted the 10 yard marker with Alto colors.
"Everybody on Friday night is out to win but everybody cares about each other and looks out for each other and I think it is showing here," Garrison coach Lance Bernard said.
Other schools stepping up for the Alto community range from nearby Rusk and Jacksonville all the way down to West Orange Stark who sent a signed banner and links of encouragement to the school. Five years ago, the school experienced their own loss after their quarterback died. Thursday Night the Brook Hill School in Bullard honored the team by having students wear black and yellow colors to their home volleyball game.
"This is a time where it is really special and means a lot when other people recognize the loss you are feeling," Brook Hill Athletic Director Wally Dawkins said.
For the teams supporting Alto, they said it is all about sportsmanship.
"We like our fans to wear our colors, but it wil be great to see them wearing black and Yellow," Craus said.
Matthews' funeral will be October 24 at 1 p.m. The service will be at the Rusk High School gym.