West Islip HS football team vies for county championship as it mourns player who died in fire
The West Islip High School football team will take the field Saturday for the Suffolk County championship game with heavy hearts.
The game comes two weeks after player Kyle Dilegame died in a house fire not far from the high school.
"Everyone is still mourning it. You can't get over it that easy," said senior quarterback Bobby Richardson.
"We're all human, we all have hearts, some days are tougher than others," said West Islip head coach Steve Mileti.
There is now a memorial for Dilegame at the football field. The preseason photo of the hulking brown-haired boy in his Lions white uniform is now surrounded by ribbons, candles, balloons and drawings.
It's similar to one that sits outside the family's Udall Road home that was severely damaged in a fire on Nov. 4.
Kyle and his 24-year-old brother Matthew Kreamer did not survive.
Their parents did, but both were injured.
The cause of the fire remains unknown.
Some of the players drive by the home on their way to school. The house is just south of Sunrise Highway. Coach Mileti believes coming to practice and focusing on a football, even for just a little while, is helping the team as it mourns.
"It's really kept us and them in a routine and it's kept their minds off of it for at least those 2 1/2 hours of practice," he said.
On Saturday, the Lions will play North Babylon for the Suffolk County Championship. They will be playing for a trophy. They will be playing for Pride.
They will also be playing for their fallen teammate, his family and for a community that could use a win to heal its heavy heart.
"I feel like the community needs it real bad, we want to bring it home for everyone, it's something we all want to do," said senior Chris Piropato.
It would be the Lions 10th win of the season and propel them into the Long Island championship game.