On Friday, remember Andre Maloney and SM West Viking Nation

10/10/2013 11:16 PM

10/10/2013 11:16 PM

During a typical week, the analysis of a Kansas City area high school football week’s schedule takes on a certain routine. The Star would typically be pondering where to dispatch reporters and photographers to catch the players and teams that are deserving of recognition.

Well, this is anything but a typical week.

Andre Maloney’s talents, personality and athleticism will be absent. Number 29 won’t be catching a touchdown pass, dazzling fans with his meandering runs or stifling an opponent from his defensive back spot.

The Shawnee Mission West senior died Friday afternoon after suffering a stroke during a football game at SM South District Stadium. Maloney was taken off the football field Thursday night in an ambulance after he became disoriented on the sideline during SM West’s 37-34 loss to Leavenworth.

It’s rotten. Life is not fair. SM West Viking Nation has gone from the heights of a state championship 11 months ago to mourning the loss of a personable and well liked student athlete who had glorious Saturday college game days directly in his path.

We have a couple of sayings in the sports department that come to mind. The first is ...

kids are resilient. The second is ... that game was a character builder

.

In one way or another, both of those statements will permeate the Olathe Northwest at SM West football game on Friday night. There will be hugs and tears and the image of Andre Maloney will hover in hearts and minds.

High school kids will grow up just a tiny bit on Friday night. Life will remind us that sports is just a game.

On Friday night, every single player wearing a Shawnee Mission West uniform will carry a heavy heart onto that field at Shawnee Mission South District Stadium. Vikings football coach Tim Callahan and his staff will have to straddle the line of coach vs. grief counselor. SM West athletic director Don Perkins told me on the phone Thursday that “Andre Maloney would have wanted us to go out there and play.”

I’ve sat with SM West Viking Nation. They are an absolute terrific bunch of folks. I was at the Vikings’ state title game last season when they dispatched of the mighty Hutchinson Salthawks.

There was euphoria on the football field last November in Topeka. Among the revelers was Andre Maloney. Don’t forget Andre Maloney as you go about your day’s activities on Friday. Don’t forget about the kid who scored a touchdown the last time he ever touched a football.

And don’t forget about the grief and sorrow that SM West fans and players will be enduring.

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