(This story was originally posted on Nov. 6, 2013. Chad Stover passed away on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013.)
We love football.
Baseball is America's past time --- and in Missouri, we certainly love the Cardinals. Baseball is our companion and friend to keep us company throughout the summer.
But football is our passion. It's what we do in the fall on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons.
It's as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey and dressing and family and pumpkin pie. Watching the Lions lose and the Cowboys win. Tossing the football around in the backyard game.
Go out on three! I'll hit you next to the swingset! Break!
It's the core of our sports soul, a part of our fabric and who we are.
But there are times when we hate football.
Chad Stover, a junior at Tipton High School, went down in the fourth quarter of his team's game against Sacred Heart in Sedalia on Oct. 31. According to reports, he walked to the sidelines rubbing his arm, before going down, and was then unsconcious.
As of Wednesday, he remains in critical condition in the ICU at University Hospital in Columbia with severe head and brain trauma.
"This wasn't the news we wanted to hear," said Chad's mother, Amy, on a post on caringbridge.org. "Chad has several things that are not in in his favor. He has a brain bleed in the core of his brain --- (hemerological stroke), he has some signs of a concussion --- that would have been no big deal, and signs of brain damage that is fairly extensive from lack of oxygen. He is in a coma. The only positive thing he has in his favor is his youth and health.
"There is nothing we can do but wait. By the end of the week we are looking at a trac and a feeding tube in his tummy. Just feel numb and so very helpless. My very sweet boy --- I love you so much."
Cry here. Pray here. You won't be the only one.
Tributes to Chad have been numerous around Central Missouri.
Sacred Heart players came to a prayer vigil for Chad on Sunday night in Tipton.
Stan Horn, a local referee, had No. 18 sewed on his hat --- and the hats for his entire crew --- for Wednesday night's district game in St. Charles.
Many teams, including Helias, Eldon and California, had No. 18 stickers on their helmets Wednesday night. Also in California, they had a ribbon painted on the field with the No. 18 on it, they wore red uniforms in Chad's honor, and they had a moment of silence before the game.
"Everyone's there for us," Tipton head coach Tony Braby said during an interview with KRCG.
Those are just a few examples.
"You've heard of extended families, in this part of the country, we have extended communities, as well," California Athletic Director Bob Staton said. "We're reaching out to them and do all we can for them
"It's a brotherhood among football players and communities."
The playoffs went on Wednesday night, as they should have. But games are games, life is life.
"We're all in this together," KRCG sports director Rod Smith said. "It's more than football, it's our young kids.
I think I can speak for all of us ... God Bless you, Chad. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.