Silence. It can be empty. Heavy. Broken.
Frankie Previte is a sophomore running back at Lewiston-Porter High School in Youngstown, New York. His father, Frank, is the Lewiston chief of police.
And his uncle is Cowboys legendary fullback and three-time Super Bowl champion Daryl Johnston. Daryl is from Youngstown, and the Johnston family is a pillar of the community. His parents still live there, along with his younger sister.
Daryl’s older sister is no longer with us. “Complete surprise. Complete surprise,” Johnston admitted.
On September 19, Janice Johnston Previte, passed away at the age of 55, following a 6-month battle with leukemia. “It just shatters my heart,” said Frank, Janice’s husband.
Janice’s legacy carries on, as do her children — her daughter Alicia and her son Frankie. “Knowing that she's not there always sits in the back of your head,” Frankie said. “Can never can escape your mind."
Two days later, Lewiston-Porter had a game and Frankie had a choice: sit out or suit up. “She always loved watching us play, and she would have wanted me out there playing,” said Frankie.
Before the game, the public address announcer planned to hold a moment of silence for Janice. But when it came time to do so, the audio system went down. “It just broke out of nowhere,” Frankie explained.
"It was ironic and kind of fitting,” said Janice’s husband, Frank. “She didn't like the spotlight and she would have wanted it to be about [Frankie]."
“You mentioned divine intervention. In that case, absolutely,” admitted Daryl. “That was classic Janice. Classic Janice.”
In this case, silence was golden because Frankie let his play do the talking --189 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
After he scored the first one, the audio system started working — just in time for the announcer to say Frankie’s name for the crowd and his mom to hear. “I started thinking about how proud she would be of me, and I wish she was there to see it."
Two days after his mother’s death, Frankie Previte had the game of his life. The next morning, the team huddled up again. Everyone, in dress clothes with their jerseys on top, got on the bus for a five-mile ride to church for Janice’s funeral.
“Football is family to me,” said Lewiston-Porter captain Joe Powers. “It was something we had to do.”
“I hope they know how much that meant to the family,” Daryl said.
“It meant a lot knowing that I had a whole team as like another family to support me for everything that happened,” said Frankie.
Entering the final game of the season, Frankie was 208 yards short of 1,000. He ran for 241 and three touchdowns, and the stadium was anything but silent.