Bigger Than Football: Craig County Community Honors Crash Victim - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Bigger Than Football: Craig County Community Honors Crash Victims During Game

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At first glance, you'd think it was any other Friday night at Craig County High School - the lights were shining brightly, the fans had packed the stands, and the Rockets were driving the ball down the field. 

But once you set foot inside the stadium, you could feel there was something different about this game.

"It's been sad," said Levi Helm, a Craig County football player. "It's been distracting. It's been hard."

Late Sunday night, a car crash claimed the lives of three young CCHS graduates: Megan Bradley, Tia Gardner, and Carleigh Taylor. Two other girls - Jessica Stebar and Alyssa Swingle - were injured.  And since then, the entire community has been in a great deal of pain. CCHS football coach Mark McPherson says Friday night's game couldn't come soon enough for everyone.

"I think it's a great place for people to come together," McPherson said. "It's a time for healing."

As fans walked into the stadium, they were given white roses, which they placed in the shape of a heart at the base of the rocket near the end zone.

A student group called YOVASO also made a poster for each of the five girls, which they displayed in front of the home stands.

"I think [the game] will help people to not only remember and pray for the families that are still suffering from this, but to bring everybody a little closer," said Dyanna Frango, a member of YOVASO and a cheerleader at the school.

The Craig County football team wore stickers on their helmets with Bradley's, Gardner's, and Taylor's initials, and, as the Virginia Tech Marching Virginians brought them on to the field with a special hymn, they, too, laid flowers by the rocket.

"We're all reeling right now," Helm said. "We all need something that we can unite around and give us strength."

They hope football can be that rallying point and help put the community on the path to recovery.

The Rockets played Covington Friday night. To show their support for the Rockets, the Cougars also brought flowers they put at the base of the rocket and wore rocket stickers on their helmets.