MIDDLEPORT, Ohio — The Big Bend Youth Football League Eastern and Meigs third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders will come together at Veterans Memorial Stadium — also known as the former Middleport High School football field — at 2 p.m. Saturday to play their championship games.
While they may have a rivalry on the field, they will come together as one for a big reason — to honor the late Eastern Eagles player Wyatt Barber.
Barber passed away Nov. 2 during practice at Eastern Local Schools’ football field. According to the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, Barber was participating in a youth football practice and players had taken a break from running sprints when a coach discovered him unconscious on the ground. The practice at the time was a walk-through, not a contact practice, they said.
After discovering Barber’s condition, coaches immediately contacted EMS at 7:19 p.m. and performed CPR before he was transported to the Meigs Emergency Department, where he passed away. Hunter was contacted and met officers at the emergency room.
An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a result of an abnormal left main coronary artery in his heart, according to Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, who performed the autopsy and later informed Meigs County Coroner Dr. Douglas Hunter and the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office of the results. No injuries to his body were reported, and the completed final autopsy will not be available for four to six weeks.
BBYFL President Sarah Pullins said the championship game was originally scheduled Nov. 7, but was postponed after Barber’s passing. On Friday afternoon, Randy Wright, of Middleport, and Tony Gilkey, of Darwin, used marker paint to create a circle on the field with eagle talons in honor of Barber.
Meigs County Commissioner and Pastor Randy Smith will lead a prayer and observe a moment of silence during the event. Also, special to the event, the Dylan Williams Forever an All Star Foundation, of Union City, Ind., will donate an automated external defibrillator to the BBYFL. According to their Facebook page, the foundation was founded on July 17, 2013. That year, Williams was hit in the neck area with a baseball during practice and immediately went into cardiac arrest. With no AEDs close by to help jump-start his heart, he passed away. Now, the foundation seeks to donate AEDs to any teams that need them.
“It’s been a very sad time, but it’s been beautiful how all the communities have come together,” Pullins said. “It’s overwhelming. I’ve even had youth football leagues clear across the United States message us and send their condolences, colleges (too) … he’s made a huge impact on a lot of people.”
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.