Hundreds gather to remember NC high school football player who drowned

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — Friends, family and teammates celebrated the life of a Moore County teen Sunday.

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Mason Wagner, 16, drowned August 12 at a local lake.

“We’re not supposed to bury our kids, it’s supposed to be the other way around,” Mason’s track and field coach, John Buckholtz, said.

But while the 16-year-old’s life was cut short, hundreds filled Pinecrest High School’s auditorium on Sunday. Everyone there was decked out in green and gold to honor Mason.

“You couldn’t break his spirit. He was a hard worker. He was strong as an ox,” Alex Contreras, Mason’s wrestling teammate, told CBS North Carolina.

Mason was an avid athlete for the Patriots.  He was involved in track and field, wrestling and football.

“He was by far the best leader we had on the defensive line,” Defensive Coordinator Antwon Murchison said.

Masson was expected to start on defense for Pinecrest this season.  Despite his absence, the team went on to win 34-0 during their first game last Friday.  It was one of the many wins each team plans to have this year.

Contreras said, “we’re doing it for Mason.”

“Instead of a downer, let’s use this as encouragement, because Mason would’ve liked us to continue on and try to win a state championship in his honor,” Murchison said.

As the mission for Mason continues, his teams plan to have him there in spirit, too.

“He’s always going to be there for us,” Contreras said.  “His mom wants to donate his shoes, to have his shoes with us every time we wrestle.”

Another way Mason’s friends, family and teammates will continue the celebration of his life.

To help make Sunday’s celebration of life happen, the community raised nearly $24,000 on a GoFundMe page.

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