LITTLE ROCK A Gurdon High School football player died Tuesday night after collapsing during a practice, officials said Wednesday.
The player, 15-year-old Montel Williams, who would have been a sophomore, had been participating in a full-pads practice for a little over an hour when he collapsed around 8:30 p.m., said Gurdon School District Superintendent Allen Blackwell.
He was transported to Baptist Hospital in Arkadelphia, where he was pronounced dead.
"He was a strong student, he was a good kid and this will be tough," Blackwell said. "Our community is strong, but anytime something like this happens, it shakes you."
The Clark County Coroner referred questions to the sheriff's office. A message left there was not immediately returned.
The cause of death was not immediately known, but Blackwell acknowledged speculation has first turned toward the heat. Though it had been cooler Tuesday than previous days, where temperatures surged into the triple digits across the state, it was still likely in the lower 90s when the nighttime practice commenced.
"Obviously he was hot because of practice," Blackwell said. "But we don't know anything official."
The Arkansas Activities Association adopted heat regulations for football teams after the death last year of a high school lineman, 16-year-old Tyler Davenport of Lamar. The guidelines limit practices to a maximum of three hours and require players to take a break of at least one hour between same-day practices.
No athletic trainers were at Tuesday’s practice, though the 250-student school has trainers at games, Blackwell said. Team coach John Pace and other coaches were trained in spotting heat-related illnesses, he said.
Blackwell said the team had taken two water breaks in the first hour of practice. The student who died showed no signs of any problems prior to collapsing.
"The coaches have gone through all the new trainings and we took every precaution that was possible to avoid these kind of events from happening," Blackwell said.
The team will not practice Wednesday, though coaches do plan to meet with players later in the day to discuss what happened, Blackwell said.
Blackwell said the death has shaken the whole school, which has about 250 students.
"He was the type of representative you wanted for your school," Blackwell said.
Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press