Council Rock South presses on in face of tragedy

Shamus Digney, Ryan Lesher and Cullen Keffer.

Those three names will forever be etched upon Council Rock High School South.

Keffer, 15, from Southampton, one of two boys in his family, had already earned a varsity letter in lacrosse.

The youngest of eight children, Digney, 15, of Holland, was a basketball and football player. His brother Cole is a midfielder for the Golden Hawks soccer team.

Lesher, 15, one of four boys from Churchville, was a member of CR South’s JV soccer team. He also played basketball for South’s freshman team, where he was co-captain.

The three teens were taken from the earth on Aug. 30, the victims of a horrific auto accident upon returning from a Saturday morning breakfast with a few friends near the Lake Wallenpaupack vacation home belonging to Lesher’s parents.

The sorrow surrounding their loss is almost too much to ask teenagers to bear.

“When one kid passes away, it’s a tragedy, when it’s three, the pain is indescribable,’ said CR South varsity soccer coach Alan Nicholl.

“The ripple effects were huge; we had to shut down for the week.’

The week after the accident, league battles with Bensalem and Truman were postponed and a non-league matchup with Unionville was cancelled.

The viewing for Keffer took place the Wednesday following the accident at Fleuhr’s Funeral Home. His funeral service was private. Lesher’s viewing was Thursday night. On Friday, Ryan was remembered at a service held at St. John’s United Methodist Church. That night, Digney’s viewing was held. Finally on Saturday, Sept. 6, a Mass of Christian Burial honoring Shamus was held at St. Bede the Venerable.

That Saturday at Walt Snyder Stadium in Newtown, the Golden Hawks football team went out and posted an emotional 41-0 win over Bensalem. The Owls cheerleaders gave their Rock South counterparts condolence ribbons, the PA announcer said a few words about the boys and asked for a moment of silence while three banners in memory of the deceased adorned the top of the stadium.

According to Nicholl, the varsity and JV soccer players got together every day that week but did not do anything pertaining to soccer. The meetings were held in order to help the players console one another in their time of need.

“It really puts things in perspective,’ added the coach. “How important is winning and losing when you have three guys who are no longer with us?

Drained both individually and as a unit, the Hawks soccer team returned to the field of play the following week. Nicholl did not hold back in admitting the toll it has taken on his squad.

“It took a lot out of us but we started back the next week,’ he said.

“Everyone else is five weeks into their season whereas I feel like we’re only two,’ he commented after a mid-September loss to Pennsbury.

A week earlier, South won its first soccer game back on the pitch, a 2-1 triumph over Hatboro-Horsham, thanks to a pair of goals by junior Dylan Schwartz.

The Hawks found the win column again on Sept. 12 in a 4-1 triumph over William Tennent, thanks to goals by Schwartz, junior Brent Weinstein and senior Jake Schefsky, who scored twice.

Since then, South has dropped a series of games to its SOL National League rivals and all by a lone goal including a heated 2-1 loss in overtime to sister school North.

Again, Nicholl stressed the importance of perspective. He likes the determination put forth by his players.

“The fact that the kids are out here and trying and hustling away, I have to give them an awful lot of credit,’ he says. “It’s not an easy thing to do — to have to refocus like that.’

He also likes the approach taken by this group of Golden Hawks.

“I think they’re exemplary — their behavior, their attitude has been terrific,’ he says.

“I think we’re just a little out of synch right now,’ added the coach after a recent 2-1 loss to Pennsbury on a goal registered by the Falcons in the final 2-and-1/2 minutes. “As each game goes by, I think we’ll continue to refocus and adjust and do the things that we used to do.

The coach wouldn’t specify as to how long that should take.

“We have an awful lot of emotion on our plate right now,’ the coach said.

“I know the tragedy might be a few weeks old but you can’t put a time frame on grief.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply