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Extended Mosley football family mourning the loss of one of its own

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 9:35 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many in the Bay District Schools community are mourning the loss Monday of one of their own after a tragic accident Sunday night.

A son, brother, friend, teammate, Mosley High School senior, and a life cut too short.

“It’s tragic whenever you lose a young life,” Head Coach Tommy Whiddon said,

Avery Sanders was just 17-years-old when he lost his life in a motorcycle crash Sunday night.

Although he had only attended Mosley for a little more than a year, Mosley Principal Brian Bullock said Avery “forged strong connections with his teachers, his classmates and his fellow athletes.”

But Whiddon said Avery didn’t always have an easy path in life.

“Avery had a tough upbringing, but was just a hard, hard worker and he worked for everything that he had in his life,” said Whiddon.

Working hard on the football field as a defensive end and number 44.

“He was definitely admired by his teammates. Avery was a little bit different,” said Whiddon.

Different characteristics like wearing his hair in a bun, ears pierced, and painting his nails. Characteristics Avery’s teammates admired about him.

“They were giving him a hard time about painting his fingernails and Avery said ‘So, what are you going to do about it?’ So Avery was definitely confident about who he was as a person, not to mention that he was a tough kid, he was a competitor, he was a hard worker,” said Whiddon.

That hard work could also be seen off the field and in the classroom. Actions Whiddon said embodied what the dolphins want their football program to be.

“You know our team motto this year is ‘good to great’ and I think Avery epitomized that more than just in the classroom. This past spring, let’s just say Avery’s grades were less than desirable, this past first nine weeks of his senior year, Avery made the A/B honor roll,” said Whiddon.

Coach Whiddon says he met with his players Monday morning, most of them had already heard the news, but he felt it was important they gather together as a team.

“You know it was good to give them a platform, and opportunity to express themselves.” the coach told us. “To be able to tell stories about Avery. To talk about Avery. To speak of all the things that he stood for. All of his different characteristics, the things that they admired about him. And we just talked about you now yes Avery’s physical body is no longer here with us. But we want to make sure that we do everything that where his spirit lives on through us. Not just as a football team. But just as people, because he had many great characteristics that will lead you to be successful in life.”

Whiddon adding it is important the players on the team know there are a lot of people on hand at the school and within the team that are available, and ready to help anyone as they try to deal with this tragedy.

“We’re trying to be here for our kids.” he said. “In this situation the school district has done a great job of providing counselors. And providing even more grief counselors for the kids if they need them. And you know in this moment we’re trying to make sure that we pull together. And we communicate, we don’t try to internalize our feelings. And letting them know it is OK to be upset. That is a natural human instinct, something that doesn’t need to be bottled up. And you know just make sure that we as coaches are here for our kids and make sure that the kids are here for each other as well. "

Coach Whiddon says he knows football, and the game with Gadsden Friday, will become important again soon. For now it just isn’t. Mosley is 9-0 and with a win Friday can finish out the program’s first ever perfect regular season since 1981.

In memory of Avery, the football team has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for his family during this difficult time. Donations will cover all funeral costs. To donate visit Avery Sanders GofundMe.

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