The Thompson Falls High School football team honored their teammate Luke Comerford, who died in June, at their first home game Friday night.
Comerford’s younger brother Jacob wore his brother’s jersey, No. 63, and joined the team on the field for the coin toss. The Bluehawks set up to run their first play with Comerford’s right guard position empty, with just seven players against the Victor Pirates’ eight. Bluehawks quarterback Trey Fisher called out the play, “Luke 63, Luke 63, hut hut,” as teammates on the field and sideline each held up a hand in the shape of an L.
Despite being down a player, the Bluehawks gained 18 yards on the first play. The team, which finished 0-9 last season, pushed hard in honor of their teammate for a 62-0 victory, one point short of 63, Comerford’s number.
Comerford, 16, died June 18 after a short police chase in which he tried to escape by jumping into the Clark Fork River in Missoula. Police stopped a vehicle believed to be stolen, in which Comerford was a passenger.
His father, Joe Comerford, said the family and town was still in utter disbelief, as Comerford was an honor roll student, set to graduate early and a respected member of the Thompson Falls community and school.
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“He could get along with and relate to anyone,” his father said. “They really loved him at that school. Kids and teachers alike still come up to us talking about him in tears.”
Coach Jared Koskela said the team would be playing the whole season in memory of Comerford, who would have been a senior this year.
Koskela remembered Comerford as being a little small for his offensive lineman position, but with more than enough drive to take on players far bigger than him.
“The team played last night the way Luke always played, with everything they had," Koskela said. "He played from whistle to whistle with his whole heart. No matter the score, he was hitting them."
His father noted Comerford would have been proud to see his team "go pro on 'em," last night, one of his son's go-to sayings.