RISON — Still reeling from the sudden death of senior wide receiver Logan Prescott in a fatal car accident, Rison football coach Clay Totty now faces a much bigger challenge than the X’s and O’s the Wildcats were preparing for on Friday nights.
Following Tuesday’s accident on Arkansas Highway 133 around 5 p.m., news spread around the close-knit community, spawning disbelief and grieving from one corner of Cleveland County to the other.
“I watched him grow up,” Totty said. “He grew up about a house down from me. You are close to all your kids. But when he was three or four years old, he would come up to the house, knock on the door and ask my wife if Coach Totty could play video games with him.”
Seniors Josh Cook and Justin Ross were also involved in the accident and are still hospitalized. Cook is at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff. Ross was transported to Baptist in Little Rock. Totty visited both on Wednesday.
“It would be sad with anybody,” Totty said. “But I watched this one grow up. His brother played for me. It’s tough for all of our kids. Everything is intertwined in a small town. It’s like losing a brother to our team.”
Totty did not discuss future plans of the program. He said that issue would be addressed once Prescott had been laid to rest. His funeral is scheduled for today.
In a closed-door meeting with the team, family and friends Wednesday morning at the high school, players asked what Prescott would say to them in an effort to ease the pain. Totty pulled Prescott’s “Goal Card” out of a box, a card every player fills out prior to the season.
At the top of the list, Prescott had written, “Always stick together,” and “Work hard everyday.” Totty read the card to those present.
“I thought that was pretty special that we could do that,” Totty said. “We were able to pull that out and see what he would say. This is what he wrote down. That was pretty powerful.
“Football was just something that happened that was a common goal,” Totty added. “It’s a brotherhood. And they are devastated. Everyone thought the world of him. His parents are very close friends of mine and they are grieving. I am grieving for them.”
Prescott’s death will invariably pull the program together … even more so than before.
“I told people before this happened that this group was close … very, very close,” Totty said. “They are hanging in there. They are a great bunch of kids. We went to the field house and went on lockdown. We are just clinging to each other the best we can.”
Totty said he received numerous calls Wednesday morning, the first from rival Fordyce coach Tim Rodgers.
“I got 10,000 calls today but the first one was from Coach Rodgers at Fordyce,” Totty said. “I certainly appreciate all of those. I didn’t get to talk to everyone but he called first thing this morning. It keeps the rivalry in perspective when you are talking about something like this.”
Totty said the team would decide on how to approach the season when the timing is right.
“We will sit down as a team when the time is right and deal with all that,” he said. “Right now we … lost a brother. We lost one of our own. Really all that is pretty trivial to us right now.”
While dealing with the loss of Prescott, Totty must also be attentive to Ross and Cook as they continue their recovery process.
“Justin is fighting for his life,” Totty said. “We are all praying for him. He’s doing about as well as can be expected. He’s a tough kid. Josh is the better of the three physically but mentally he is hurting. He needs a lot of prayers.”