It's been a difficult year for the Buford High School community, which has lost a coach, a student and a popular graduate in just nine months.
Devin Durden was the latest loss. The 2009 Buford High graduate played football at the school, and earned a full scholarship to play for the Air Force Academy. He had just come home when he was hit while riding his motorcycle along Buford Drive on Sept. 26. He died more than a week later.
Former Buford High teammate Sterling Bell said Friday's game was the perfect tribute to Durden.
"That's probably the best way in Buford," Bell said. "Football, dedicating the whole game to him. That's kind of a big deal."
Friday's tribute game is a touching end to a somber year.
Earlier in September, 16-year-old student Adam Smith collapsed on the school's football field during a pre-season conditioning session for the school's basketball team. He died days later.
In January, assistant football coach Ryan Daniel, 30, also collapsed at school and died.
Micah Smith, who graduated with Durden, said the year has been difficult for the community to process, but that Friday's game helps the community heal.
"I've been close with everyone who has passed and it really shows how well Buford comes together in times of need," Micah Smith said. "We are all just one big family. You can tell by how many people showed up today."
In fact, stands were packed for the game. Two of Durden's siblings still attend Buford High, where his father continues to coach girls' basketball. Durden's mother is a nurse at Buford Middle School.
While the 10 and 46 yard lines were to be marked for Smith and Durden, respectively, perhaps the most touching tribute was Durden's little sister, Danielle, winning homecoming queen at the game.
"I think their family is one big thing that carries on Devin in his legacy," Micah Smith said.
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