Phoenix football player dies

Phoenix Firebird football player Ridge Barden died Friday night in a high school football game at Homer High School.

Sunday morning update:

Cortland County's coroner has now ruled that the death of Phoenix football player Ridge Barden was due to a 'massive subdural hematoma' caused by the helmet to helmet contact at Friday nights Phoenix-Homer game. Kevin Sharp tells us there does not appear to be a pre-existing condition, though the investigation continues. The death has been ruled accidental.

As the community continues to come to grips with the sudden death, there are several efforts at tributes:Homer's cheerleaders, in competition on Saturday, wore orange and black hair ribbons--those are Phoenix' colors, and they're asking that everyone wear orange and black on Monday. There are also calls for everyone who attends this coming Friday's football games also wear orange and black, as a tribute to Ridge Barden.


The mother of the Phoenix High School football player who died Friday night is remembering her son and his love of the game of football.

Jacqueline Barden says the family is still in shock at what happened Friday at Homer. She says she can't believe that her son is gone.

"I'm still reeling, trying to make sense of all this," Barden says. "His father is the same way. We're just in total shock right now."

Barden says her son loved football from the time he started playing as a kid. At over six feet tall, Ridge had ideal size for a lineman.

Barden says what made Ridge special was not only his dedication to the game of football, but his commitment in the classroom as well. He was a straight-A student and member of the honor society.

There has been an outpouring of support from the community. Numerous Facebook pages have been created as a tribute to Ridge.

His mother says she is appreciative of the support, but she's not surprised because Ridge was so well liked.

"It helps, but I also think a lot of that has to do with who Ridge was as a person," Barden says. "He would have done that for another teammate, he would have been there for them."

Barden says she has no animosity for the Homer football team, and doesn't believe her son's death should prompt any change to the game. She says hard hits are part of the game, and one of the reasons Ridge loved the sport so much.


Previous Coverage:

Two High School communities are in shock, after a varsity football player has died. Junior Ridge Barden was involved in a head-to head collision Friday night in a game against Homer. Phoenix head football coach Jeff Charles says Barden was hurt in the third quarter and was then taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Both Homer and Phoenix High Schools opened this morning, to do counseling for students and staff, and more counseling will be available on Monday. Homer's teams also received support as they began today's sports events.

CNY Central spoke with Charles and Superintendent Judith Belfield this afternoon.

Charles says Barden was a member of the honor society and a straight-A student. Friday night's game was his first start on varsity. Charles says he rewarded him for being such a hard worker and leader.

Belfield says no one got any sleep Friday night.

Phoenix Schools have now posted this on their website:This is a devastating loss for our community. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family, players and coaches.Homer Schools have also posted a sympathy message on their district website, Lots of people are also posting their condolences on our Facebook page

PSATs are being administered this weekend, and it's expected they'll be given for both districts.