PLANO - The Prestonwood Christian Academy Lions ran onto the field for their first football game of the season with number nine in the middle, leading the way.
There was a pre-game tribute to his mentor missing from the sidelines.
His coach and dad, Wade McLain.
"It's been a real surreal feeling not seeing him here," said Mike Maack, the school's head baseball coach.
McLain, an assistant football coach with the school for ten years, died in August during practice.
A preliminary autopsy report showed heat exposure combined with a heart condition led to McLain's death.
The athletic staff and players are still struggling with the loss.
"We are getting used to practice now, but it's still hard without hearing his voice," said Prestonwood Christian head football coach, Chris Cunningham.
Before the season opener's kickoff, McClain's family walked onto the field for a special ceremony.
The team honored the coach with a prayer, a moment of silence and a tribute that every player will carry with them - a decal with the coach's initials now graces every helmet.
"His legacy will definitely live on from generation to generation because of the way he has impacted lives," said Cunningham.
McLain's school family is also surrounding his family at home, offering support and prayers.
He left behind a wife and five children.
"It has been tough for them, but we are going to help them get through it," said Maack.
McLain was also a baseball coach. Those players will be honoring him as well when the season begins in January.
"There's no doubt, he's looking down on us, said Maack. "He's smiling on us."