Elyria High School football team pay tribute to coach who passed away during game

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ELYRIA, Ohio – Staff, students, teammates, friends and family at Elyria High School are still trying to cope with the loss of assistant football coach De’van Bogard while planning to celebrate his life.

Bogard, a former Ohio State football player and father of a 5-year-old son, was found dead in his apartment around 2 a.m. Tuesday after a fire broke out in the building.

“He came out of his room and was trying to get out, and our crews found him within two feet of the door,” Elyria Fire Chief Joe Pronesti said.

Firefighters don’t suspect any suspicious activity, but that doesn’t alleviate the pain, especially for those who have worked with Bogard every week at the Elyria High football field.

“He was one of the most genuine and kindest young men I have ever met. No, there was nothing wrong about him, you know he didn’t do a show for anyone, “Elyria high school football head coach Devlin Culliver said.

Culliver and Bogard had similar passions for teaching football, but more importantly for helping young men grow. Bogard told Culliver that he wanted to be a head coach soon, but wanted to spend a few years learning from him first. Culliver learned of Bogard’s heartbreaking news Tuesday morning from the school principal and superintendent.

“You know time stood still, and I only had to process for a few minutes, then once I did, you know, my first thought obviously went to her son,” he said. Coach Culliver said.

The next thing he did was share with the team who have learned and grown so much with Bogard.

“You know, as soon as they heard the combination of his name and the words, he’s gone. The room just went from calm to noise and tears and grief, which is understandable. You know, they’re teenagers and i was holding back my tears too and the coaches were crying, ”Culliver said.

Although Coach Bogard was only at Elyria for two seasons, he made an impact on these kids in a way they will remember the rest of their lives, ending the year with an extra chip on their shoulders. .

“I think the biggest thing he leaves behind is just the love he showed the kids, you know, and they’re hurting because they feel that love he left behind, you know, and I hope this situation what’s going on with him stays with these kids, drives them forever, ”Culliver said.

But his impact doesn’t end there, Culliver said the football program is stronger than it’s ever been thanks to Bogard and this season they will make sure they play for him.

Culliver let the seniors decide whether they will play for senior night this Friday and they still plan to do so while honoring their assistant coach throughout the process.

RELATED: Former OSU football player Elyria HS coach dies in apartment fire

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