LOUISBURG, Kan. -- Football season began with tears for one Miami County high school.
The Louisburg Wildcats have to carry on without a teammate who died in a car accident just three weeks ago.
That teenager was 17-year-old Auston McLellan. Police reports from Saturday, August 17th say the Wildcats starting quarterback tried passing another car on a stretch of Metcalf Road in Miami County, when he lost control and hit a utility pole. McLellan died at the hospital later that night, which was the evening before fall football practice would begin for Louisburg High.
"We were best friends," Louisburg Senior Luke Hupp said. "We had a select few guys that we would hang out with. We were always doing something."
"A friend called me, and I was totally shocked," Louisburg Senior Will Garza said. "It was unreal. Unbelievable."
Now, the surviving Wildcats are carrying on, trying to get back to the business of a normal life, and playing the game they love to honor their fallen friend.
Wildcats Coach Kyle Litteral said he called his seniors together the morning after the accident, and all of them voted to play on because Auston would want them to.
"Nothing's ever going to back to being the same or the way it was, but we can establish a new normal, and move on from there," Litterall said. "I think that's part of the healing process."
Players say it's been tough to move past the tragedy, and they've had to grow up quickly in the aftermath.
"That's how football is," Hupp explained. "You're one big family. You're always going to care for the person who's right across from you."
"These kids are resilient," Litteral said. "They bounce back."
These Wildcats say they won't give up, because even after his passing, Auston won't let them quit. Nine of these players would have been his teammates for one final season, and they say they still feel his push cheering them to fight on.
"He'd want us to go as hard as we could go," Louisburg High Senior T.J, McKiernan said. "100 percent. All the effort we could get. That's what he was all the time."
"He would tell them -- you never know when your last play is coming. You'd better play hard," Litteral said.
And to keep moving forward in life. Friends here and gone would want it that way.
Louisburg High School plans a short moment of silence to honor Auston Mclellan before tonight's game against Spring Hill.