LOUISBURG, Kan. - Until a few weeks ago, the Louisburg Wildcats planned to play two McLellan brothers in their season opener on Friday night.
But a car crash in August took senior quarterback Auston McLellan's life in mid-August, leaving this team and town devastated.
His family, too, struggled, including mother Angie, father Wade and two brothers and a sister.
But medical bills and funeral expenses that seemed daunting were quickly spread across the community in which Auston was a star-in-the-making.
His funeral was paid for in days, and funds to support the family and endow a scholarship in his name are growing by the day.
On Friday, his teammates and younger brother Mitchell took the field against Spring Hill, energized by the memory of their former quarterback, and in front of a grandstand where dozens of fans wore t-shirts with his number from last season, 14, or this year, 5.
The team's motto this year is "honor through effort," a realistic goal for a team unlikely to win every game, no matter how emotionally charged they play.
On Friday night, they honored their former teammate with a 28-0 win.