Rick O'Brien: Springfield's Chase Luxton gets the TD for his brother Cole

Posted: October 15, 2012

Springfield (Montco) was leading visiting Norristown by 12-6 in the second half of Friday night's football contest, but tight end Chase Luxton could sense that the momentum was shifting in the wrong direction.

"I said, 'C'mon, Cole, we really need your help here,' " the 17-year-old said. "It felt like he was watching over us with that goofy smile of his."

Just three days earlier, Cole Luxton, a well-liked sophomore and reserve player for the Spartans, died in an apparent suicide in the family's Flourtown home.

A Springfield Township police officer said Sunday that Chief Randall Hummel was not available to comment on the investigation.

With his parents' blessing, Chase Luxton, also a linebacker and special-teams performer, decided to suit up Friday. "I knew my brother would have wanted me to play," he said.

Early in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, in what can only be described as an ending crafted in Hollywood, Cole Luxton responded on cue to his brother's request.

Chase Luxton hauled in scrambling quarterback Chris Stone's pass at about the 4-yard line, fought his way into the end zone for his first varsity touchdown, and clinched Springfield's emotional 18-6 triumph.

"It was supposed to be a key-pass right," Chase Luxton said. "I wasn't the intended receiver. I blocked my guy, found an open window, and Chris hit me. It was an unbelievable moment."

At intermission, with Springfield ahead by six points and in position to end a three-game losing skid, Chase's mother, Cheryl, paid a visit to the locker room.

"She thanked us for our efforts up until that point, told us how proud she was of us, and to go out in the second half and kick some butt," Chase said. "That was really something."

Last Tuesday, Cole Luxton, a junior-varsity player who suited up for varsity games, practiced with his brother and about 30 teammates. Nothing, Chase Luxton said, seemed out of the ordinary.

Cole returned home, ate dinner with his family, and then took a shower. Soon after, around 8 p.m., there was a gunshot.

"My mom was in the shower, my dad [Dave] and I were in the kitchen," Chase Luxton said. "We weren't sure what it was at first. I rushed upstairs, was the first to find my brother. It's a sight that keeps flashing back in my mind."

Chase Luxton said Cole used his father's gun to kill himself. "He kept it locked up in a safe upstairs," he said. "It was there in case we were ever burglarized or in danger. He told us where the key was should we ever need it."

Signs of his only sibling being depressed or troubled were not apparent. "We really hadn't noticed him acting differently," the 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior said. "He was always in good spirits."

Said Chris Shelly, Springfield's head coach: "It was a shock to all of us. Cole was full of life, full of jokes. Every day, he would make fun of the T-shirt I was wearing."

Chase Luxton quickly dismissed rumors that Cole, who stood 5-foot-5 and weighed about 145 pounds, was bullied at school.

"Everybody liked him," he said. "In football, if one of his teammates was having a bad day, he would go over and do something to make that player laugh."

Hundreds showed up at the school for a Wednesday night vigil. In Friday's game, with a whiteout for homecoming, junior two-way back Brendan Doyle asked for and received permission from the Luxtons to wear his close friend's No. 32 jersey.

For the J.V. squad, Cole Luxton was mostly a tight end and defensive lineman. As a freshman, he went from being a manager to player.

"We said, 'If you want to be part of this team, we would love to have you,' " Shelly said. "He was a kid who would play wherever we needed him."

Chase Luxton recalled playing QB for the JV team last year and completing a pass, of about 10 yards, to his brother. "It was pretty neat," he said. "It's a nice memory."

Baseball was Cole Luxton's other love. "He was a middle infielder, played either second base or shortstop," Chase said.

Now, Chase and his parents must adjust to life without Cole. "We're trying to stay together as a family of three," Chase said. "Everything I do from here on is going to be dedicated to him."

Funeral services will be held Tuesday at St. Genevieve Church, 1225 Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown. There will be a viewing from 9 to 11 a.m., followed by an 11:30 service. Donations can be made to the Shane Halligan Memorial Fund, c/o Halligan Family, 301 Integrity Ave., Oreland, Pa., 19075.

The fund is named after a Springfield student who killed himself at the school in 2006.


Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10

FOOTBALL

Team Record

Last week's rankings in parentheses.

1. St. Joseph's Prep (3) 6-0

2. Downingtown East (2) 7-0

3. La Salle (1) 6-1

4. Ridley (5) 7-0

5. Pennridge (NR) 6-1

6. Coatesville (7) 5-2

7. Central Bucks South (4) 6-1

8. North Penn (8) 4-3

9. Archbishop Wood (6) 5-2

10. Imhotep Charter (9) 7-0

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Downingtown West (6-1), Garnet Valley (5-2), Malvern Prep (4-2), Pennsbury (5-2), Pottsgrove (7-0),

Roman Catholic (4-2).

- Rick O'Brien


Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ozoneinq. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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