DALLAS - Hundreds of North Texas kids are taking the field Friday night for high school football games, but it was a game Thursday night that forever changed the life of one local quarterback.
Diondre Preston, 17, suffered a serious spinal cord injury and underwent surgery Friday afternoon at Baylor Hospital. The Molina High School senior couldn't feel anything from the neck down as he was transported off the field and then onto an ambulance.
Preston's injury is the second spinal cord related injury to occur in the last year. It happened in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game against LG Pinkston High School. Preston, number 20, had already scored two touchdowns. He was driving for his third when he was hit.
"As he's going forward, one of their defensive back comes up to make a tackle and Diondre is already down low and their heads just collided," said Charles Deville, Molina High School's football coach. "And [it was] two good athletes with a lot of speed hitting each other."
The impact left the star quarterback motionless on the field.
"Diondre is the type of kid that every father wants to have," Deville said.
The injury happened a year-to-the-day of a similar high school football incident involving a Pinkston High School football player. Fifteen-year-old Jared Williams was paralyzed from the neck down by another head-to-head hit on the very same field. Friday, he was one of the first to visit Preston in the hospital.
"It's just a freak accident," Williams said. "It's kind of creepy it happened on almost the same day."
The teen said he is praying for Preston.
"If I can go through it and come out of my surgery moving my arms, he could come out of his surgery doing even better," Williams said.
For Williams' mother, Arlenna Williams, the news brought back the horror of that night last year.
"I cried before I got here," she said outside the hospital. "I prayed, and I just knew I needed to be that strength, that rock that [Preston's mother] needed in order to get through this because it is not easy for us."
Preston's teammates took to the field Friday after spending the morning with counselors.
Preston had been looking at different scholarship offers from across the country and had just been named homecoming king by his fellow classmates.
"He's just a good part of everybody," said a fellow student and player. "And, to not be with him, it hurts because you know he is out there suffering. He is in the hospital fighting."