Western Kansas teenager dies after collapsing in playoff football game

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A 17-year-old football player from western Kansas has died after collapsing on the sideline Tuesday night.

Luke Schemm, a standout running back for Wallace County High School's eight-man football team, collapsed shortly after taking a hit during a playoff game. He was airlifted to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood but was pronounced brain dead Wednesday.

"Luke gave everything in life he had," said David Schemm, Luke's father.

For Luke Schemm, giving everything as a small town athlete meant playing three sports, including offense and defense for the football team.

"In giving your all, like Luke always has, you take on risk," David Schemm said.

Luke's performance seemed more dominant than risky during the game on Tuesday. Video shows Schemm running for two touchdowns. His father said he also scored a pair of two-point conversions. Shortly after that last score, something went wrong.

"He was tackled right before he went into the end zone," David Schemm said. "At that point, he ran to the sidelines and collapsed."

After the game, fans and players held hands in a circle on the field, praying for Luke. Though he was flown to Swedish Medical Center, doctors couldn't do much to relieve swelling and later pronounced him dead.

"We have come to terms that Luke, our beautiful gift from God, is no longer with us," David Schemm said through tears on Wednesday.

Dr. Brooke Pengel, medical director at Rocky Mountain Youth Sports Medicine and Center for Concussion, said players like Luke who experience a delayed reaction to severe head trauma tend to suffer from brain bleeding that accumulates, sometimes because of a big hit, other times because of a hit that comes before the player has recovered from a previous concussion.

"In the youth population that can result in something called second impact syndrome," Pengel said. "Which can result in fatal brain swelling and death."

With an entire community now in mourning, Luke's father said he wouldn't have dreamed of stopping his son from giving his all and he said he hopes his teammates continue to play in his honor.

"We are glad that our children don`t hold back, but rather, put themselves out there fully," David Schemm said. "Life without risk is no life at all."

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