VACAVILLE — A Vacaville Christian High School football player who was on the receiving end of an illegal hit was in the hospital Sunday with his family and teammates by his side.
“I looked over and saw him hit the ground and we could tell instantly what happened,” said Falcons co-captain Ian Peixoto. “Like, he was, like he was hurt.”
“(He) came in and hit Jack with an illegal head-to-head,” said Jack Worthan’s teammate, Anthony Delgado.
A player on the opposing team made helmet-to-helmet contact with 17-year-old Worthan.
Witnesses said Worthan lay motionless on the football field Friday night during the first home game of the season. As paramedics rushed to help him, his teammates prayed from the sidelines.
“Everybody was upset,” said co-captain Gabe Helmer. “There was definitely some frustration but then after that, we rallied together.”
First responders took Worthan to Kaiser Vacaville’s intensive care unit Friday night, where he has been surrounded ever since by loved ones and teammates turned family.
“He’s pretty much my brother because I know if I got hurt, he’d be here for me,” Peixoto told FOX40. “So, I’m just doing what he would do.”
“I mean, it’s a brotherhood, that’s for sure,” Helmer said. “It’s definitely something where everybody has to come together. When it comes to football, you’re like family.”
Worthan suffered a brain bleed from the hit, according to his family.
Teammates said the traumatic brain injury could have been prevented if athletes simply played by the rules.
“By choosing to hit somebody like that and being selfish to try to get that highlight or try to get that nice play on your highlight reel, we’re talking about life or death here, whether somebody can play a sport again. So, it’s bigger than that,” Helmer said.
Loved ones said Worthan’s condition seemed to be improving Sunday. He has since been downgraded from the ICU to the hospital’s main floor and friends were hopeful he will return to the football field someday soon.
”It’s going to be a long road to recovery but I will be here through it all,” Peixoto said.
Vacaville Christian High School said they will do whatever it takes to help him eventually make the transition back to the classroom.
School officials said the player who committed that illegal hit was ejected from the game and will face a penalty.