PHILADELPHIA – A traumatic week for the Pleasantville community, New Jersey turned tragic on Wednesday when they learned that a 10-year-old boy who was shot in the neck during a Friday night playoff match against Camden, Micah Tennant, had died.
"We found out this morning," Pleasantville midfielder and running back Ernest Howard, who used number 10 to honor Tennant as the match resumed at Lincoln Financial Field on Wednesday afternoon, told ESPN. "Our coach told us. He gathered us in the auditorium. Only sadness, anger, anger, many things crossed our minds. We have a game to win on the same day. Much has to be taken today."
With this dark background the team finished their match at the Philadelphia Eagles stadium. After the shooting, the Eagles entered and offered their home when they found Pleasantville and Camden were looking for a neutral site.
Eagles give them a red carpet treatment. They sent a coach bus to pick up the team and drive them to the stadium. When the players arrive, they walk into the locker room to find a personalized sign at the locker kiosk.
About a dozen Eagles members, including Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz and Fletcher Cox, welcomed the pregame players. That was followed by an NFL-style entrance, complete with a smoke machine lining the entrance of the tunnel as they ran into AC / DC's "For Those About to Rock."
"It is truly an honor for us to host both schools today," said Eagles president Don Smolenski. "Hopefully this can be something they remember in a positive way to move forward in their lives."
"These kids need something exciting for them," added Pleasantville coach Chris Sacco.
The teams gathered in midfield before the start of the match in a moment of silence for Tennant, with the public speech announcer saying, "We joined the Micah family to show that acts of violence did not win. '
Tennant's mother, Angela Tennant, praised her on a Facebook post, using her nickname, "Dew."
"This boy is very different Big Personality … Big Smile & Big Dreams!" he wrote. "Never in a million years would I have thought this would be my life. I am glad my mother raised me like she did. Only by Dewa Rahmat & Rahmat that I stood tall for my son! My dew would never allow there who forgot you just as I always sweat you I will continue. My Jody, I love you forever. "
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy mourned the death of the boy in a Twitter post.
"There are no children who deserve to live a promising life, especially with indiscriminate and senseless gun violence," the governor said. "No parent has the right to bury their child. We will hold Dew's memory close, and we will remember his name, as we continue our work to make New Jersey safer for all our families. '
Wentz discussed the shooting during a press conference hours before Wednesday's match.
"A very difficult situation. This is a tragedy in itself," said Wentz, according to WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. "It's unfortunate to happen in a public setting, like what happens at a soccer match. It's a Friday night light. This is something kids only dream about playing. This is something I will cherish for the rest of my life, playing Friday night lights.
Allegations against suspected gunmen have been escalated to murder. He also faces two counts of attempted murder and a charge of weapons. Two others were injured in the shooting; a 27-year-old man was shot, and a 15-year-old boy was shepherded. Six men have been charged, including the man who was shot.
There were about 17 minutes left Friday when gunfire was heard and the match was stopped at the stadium in Pleasantville, near Atlantic City.
Wednesday's match, won by Camden 22-0, is not open to the public. The lower bowls on each side of the stadium are filled with chosen family and friends. On Camden's side, the school band played together as the cheerleaders sang and the mascot ran along the side lines. The Pleasantville side, in mourning, is much calmer.
"It must be difficult to accept that we accept this loss today, but that is a greater meaning because we came here and are still fighting and giving our hearts to Micah on this extraordinary stage that the Eagles offered us," Howard said.