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Oct 5, 2013 12:11 AM by Tony Spehar -

Buena Vista High School football team plays first game since coach's tragic death

The players of the Buena Vista High School football team took the field in Rye to take on the Rye High School Thunderbolts in their first game since the tragic death of their coach who died along with numerous members of his family in an accident on Monday.

Dwayne Johnson, 46, his wife Dawna, 45, and their daughter Kiowa-Rain, 18, were killed in a rockslide while hiking in Chaffee County on Monday. The Johnson's nephews Baigen Walker, 10, and Paris Walkup, 22, were also killed. Their daughter Gracie Johnson, 13, was the lone survivor of the rockslide. The Johnson's all lived in Buena Vista.

The flag at the Rye High School football field flew at half-staff as the Buena Vista High School Demons warmed-up for their game on Friday night. Dwayne Johnson was one of the well loved coaches of the Demons. Parents, like Kevin Osborne, said the entire tight-knit community of Buena Vista had been shocked by the tragic death of the Johnson's.

"Disbelief, I didn't expect that was really true, I think most people had a hard time believing it," Osborne described his reaction to the news. "I expected them to come out of there."

Osborne said Dwayne Johnson had been one of the first people to befriend him when he and his family moved to Buena Vista about 10-years-ago.

"It's kind of hard when you move to a small town to break in and Dwayne was a friend to me and he had at lots of friends he didn't need one so that's the kind of guy he was, you know, he would reach out to people and had a big heart," he explained.

As game time approached emotions ran high in the visitor stands, many parents had heavy hearts but knew the best thing for their sons was to take the field and play. Many said their children had difficulty dealing with the loss.

"He started talking yesterday, so that was a good turn," Rebecca Aucoin said of her son. "Dwayne was special to him...he just meant the world to them, you know he's bigger than life."

The game began with a moment of silence for the Johnson family. Sportsmanship was front and center; Rye Thunderbolt players hugged their opponents and showed their support for Buena Vista.

"Wow, what a great community we have, they're awesome," Aucoin said choking-up. "We've pulled together, our kids have come together."

On Friday night the Buena Vista Demons did what their coach would've wanted, they played their best.

"Give them football tonight and if they don't have to think about anything else but play the game and love the game," Aucoin said hopefully.

A memorial ceremony for the Johnson family is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Buena Vista High School gym.



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