A prayer was said before the start of the game for players Walker Wilbanks and Adam Day. (Source: MSNewsNow)
Walker Wilbanks' #65 painted on the field at the Jackson Prep/Copiah Academy game
Adam Day's #44 painted on the field at the Jackson Prep/Copiah Academy game
COPIAH COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
The number 65 was sprayed on the Copiah Academy Colonels field in honor of Jackson Prep Junior Walker Wilbanks. Also on the field was the number 44, a tribute to Colonels football player Adam Day who also passed this summer.
Saturday's game was bittersweet for both teams, but Jason Walton, the head of Jackson Prep believes getting on the field was like therapy for the players.
"I think it's just good medicine to let these boys get out here and get after each other a little bit," said Walton.
Before the game started the crowd stood for a somber minute of silence and prayer. Although Wilbanks wasn't on the field with his teammates his memory was etched in the hearts of his peers.
"We have our pins and our buttons and our whole mindset is really dedicated to him," said Ellie Wells, the Jackson Prep Cheerleading Captain.
The Jackson Prep team also wore the number 65 on one side of their helmets and Prep on the other side.
"I think we're just beginning to see the tributes to Walker Wilbanks and his life and legacy will continue to unfold in the days and weeks ahead," said Walton.
Prep's head coach Ricky Black said it's been a long, sad week for the school and community, but he's grateful for the Wilbanks family for keeping the team encouraged.
"We're praying for the Wilbanks family that you know we could help them carry through just like they have they've given us a lot of courage and strength this week as we've watched them deal with this," said Black.
With both teams grieving the loss of a player, the typical heated rivalry didn't seem to matter.
"It doesn't matter who wins or loses just that they play for him," said Jackson Prep 8th grader Abby Newton.