A 16-year-old Chino High football player died of a head injury Wednesday, hours after hitting helmets with a teammate and collapsing during practice.
Scott Maughan, a junior linebacker, became wobbly, then fell to the ground after colliding with another player during a routine defensive drill Tuesday night.
A school trainer provided immediate assistance, with paramedics called promptly, Principal Robert Nero said.
Maughan was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center and underwent one hour of surgery. A craniotomy was performed for a brain hemorrhage, San Bernardino County coroner's spokesman Randy Emon said.
Maughan was pronounced dead at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday. Emon said an autopsy is planned to determine if Maughan's injury was pre-existing or occurred during Tuesday's practice. The family is donating his organs.
"It's like losing one of your sons," Chino Coach John Monger said.
Maughan was one of two sophomores to play last season on Chino's 13-1 Southern Section Division IV championship team.
Expected to start at inside linebacker, Maughan was 6 feet 1, 205 pounds and was "a tremendously fit person," Nero said. He had a 3.7 grade-point average.
"He worked very hard," Monger said. "He was a very talented young man, a kid you wanted your son to be like."
Maughan's death comes at the beginning of fall practice for high school football players across the country.
Schools and coaches have taken precautions in the wake of four suspected heat-related deaths of high school players last month. One player died in North Carolina, two in Kansas and another in Maryland, all during high temperatures.
Nero, however, said he does not believe heat was a factor in Maughan's death.
There were five deaths of Southern California high school athletes during the 1996-97 school year, including football players Eric Hoggatt of Reseda and Adrian Taufaasau of Coronado.
Reseda football Coach Joel Schaeffer said there is no easy way to deal with the death of a popular high school athlete.
"It's very hurtful and very emotional," Schaeffer said. "My heart goes out to the family and coaches. People have no idea what you go through."
Monger said he has never experienced a player's death in more than 25 years of coaching.
Nero said he believes the football and training staff at Chino did all it could to aid Maughan.
Maughan's injury occurred at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday. Assistant coach Matt McCain removed Maughan's helmet after he fell and noticed that the player was unconscious. Trainer Paulette Ojinaga checked Maughan's vital signs and indicated he was breathing, according to John Lynde, spokesman for the Chino Valley Unified School District.
Paramedics arrived and airlifted Maughan to Loma Linda. His mother, Melanie, was present on the field. Emon said Maughan was found to have bleeding on the brain.
Nero spoke to the football team Wednesday afternoon. He said he plans to discuss Maughan's death with the student body when school begins next week.
"We're going to dedicate the school year to him," Nero said.
He is survived by his parents and brother, Matthew, a sophomore at Chino. Funeral arrangements are pending.