(UPDATED: Thursday, 2:34 p.m.)
Above: Vinnie Rodriguez, a sophomore running back at Boron High School, died Wednesday due to head injuries suffered in a game played five days earlier. (Los Angeles Times)
By Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
The Bobcats voted unanimously to proceed with Friday’s road game against Lake Isabella Kern Valley after the death of Rodriguez, 16, a sophomore running back and safety who succumbed Tuesday night to head injuries suffered last Friday during a game against California School for the Deaf Riverside.
Vinnie Rodriguez, a sophomore running back and safety at Boron High, died Tuesday night at Loma Linda Medical Center from head injuries suffered last Friday during the Bobcats’ game against Riverside California School for the Deaf, reports Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.
Bolch goes on to report:
Rodriguez had been in critical condition and in intensive care since sustaining the injuries while making a tackle. He appeared to stabilize before taking a turn for the worse Tuesday night.
The Bobcats had voted to play Friday’s game against Lake Isabella Kern Valley after Rodriguez was injured, but those plans are now up in the air, Boron Principal Paul Kostopoulos said. Boron will hold a spaghetti dinner fundraiser Thursday evening in the school cafeteria to help defray Rodriguez’s medical costs.
Boron Coach Todd Fink described Rodriguez as a 5-foot-5, 135-pound whirlwind who embodied the spirit of the Bobcats, a small-school team that packs a wallop.
“I guarantee anyone who’s been hit by him is not going to believe he’s 5-5, 135,” Fink said Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier this week, Boron students affixed pink and orange ribbons to a fence at the school forming a heart alongside Rodriguez’s jersey number and first initial. Below lay a bouquet of flowers, a candle, an angel figurine and a book of prayers and promises.
Standing near the tribute Tuesday, senior Laynah Fealy described Rodriguez as “hyper” and “light-hearted,” though there was nothing fluffy about his play.
It’s a sad day in high school football.