The first Friday night football game of the year at Fayetteville's 71st High School was dedicated to Evan Raines. The rising Junior died after collapsing near the end of practice on August 3. It was the team's first practice of the season.
Greeting the crowd at the game were foam cups in the fence spelling out "DO IT FOR EVAN #40." The cheerleaders also held a banner that read "DO IT FOR EVAN" and another banner that depicted Evan's jersey with a halo over it. The cheerleaders held it over the players as they ran onto the field – meant to represent Evan looking over his teammates.
There was also a moment of silence before the game, and the band planned to dedicate the halftime performance to Evan. However, storms postponed the game in the second quarter.
Evan's parents were at the game along with other family members.
"One of the reasons we've been able to carry on as much as we have been able to is the kindness that's been extended to us," Evan's father Rodney Raines said. "I think it's wonderful. I commend the entire athletics department for doing this for us tonight, and my son Evan."
71st High School has also retired Evan's jersey number, 40. It will never to be worn by another 71st High School player.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>