A sudden crash that killed a rising football standout leaves his youth football team to kickoff its season by dedicating it to him.
Curren Eason, 14, played for the Manchester Knights, a member of the American Youth Football League. One day, he wanted to play at UConn, but those dreams were dashed after a sudden accident.
Eason was killed after he accidentally hit a car with his bicycle. The Manchester Knights are beginning their 2013 season with heavy hearts.
"I just think about it everyday," said Knights Coach Tylon Smith. "I can't swallow that he's gone."
Smith said he still has a hard time coming to terms with the loss of a player he's mentored for five years. He was there at Connecticut Children's Medical Center when Eason died on Tuesday.
"I couldn't believe it until I got to the hospital and saw him in the hospital laying in that bed, and I was like 'wow, this is really true,'" Smith said.
Shattered glass on Oakland Street serves as a reminder of this accident. Police said Eason was coming down Sheldon Street when his bike hit a car.
The sudden loss leaving a huge impact on the field, where just this season, Eason was unanimously named captain.
"We're going to use that inner strength, that beautiful smile he had, the beautiful person he was, and will always be and use that to motivate us," Eason said.
Smith said Eason, who went to Public Safety Academy in Enfield, had dreams of becoming an officer and was very close to his family.
"She [Eason's mother] misses her son, she wants him back," Smith said. "We all want him back."
While Eason also played basketball, Smith said football was his first love and this season, every pass, every catch and every tackle will be made with No. 82 in their hearts.
"This is what Curren would want, this is how he would push us, this is how he motivates us, so we got to play through him," Smith said.
Eason was just going to switch to No. 80 this season. His jersey will be displayed on the sideline at each game, starting with game one this Sunday in Wallingford.
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