Phoenix Football Player Dies After Injury Suffered During Game

Ridge Barden, in a photo released by the Phoenix Central School District.
Ridge Barden, in a photo released by the Phoenix Central School District.

A Phoenix high school football player died Friday evening after suffering an injury during his team’s game at Homer high school.

Ridge Barden, 16 and a junior, died after suffering what the school district describes as a head injury in the third quarter of the Firebirds’ Friday night game at Homer. He was taken by ambulance from the field to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  (His obituary is here.)

An autopsy, being conducted Saturday, could help determine how he died and whether the game injury caused the death or merely contributed to it.

Phoenix Central Schools held a counseling session at the high school Saturday at midday.  The session for students and staff coincided with an important college-prep test being given at the school.

Superintendent of Schools Judy Belfield issued an updated statement midafternoon Saturday:

Ridge Barden, Class of 2013, died Friday, October 14th from an injury suffered during the varsity football game versus Homer CSD.

Ridge was a dedicated team player and someone who gave 100% to every practice and game.

Ridge was also a kind, caring young man who was devoted to his family.

We will miss his smile, enthusiasm, and dedication to the football and wrestling teams at Phoenix.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to Ridge’s family, his team, coaches and to the players and staff at Homer CSD who also share in our loss.


The student’s name has not been released, though it has been widely spread by friends and acquaintances on Facebook and Twitter.

The school district confirms the student’s death in a message posted Saturday morning on the district website.

The entire message from Superintendent of Schools Judy Belfield reads:

“During the third quarter of last evening’s football game at Homer CSD, one of our football players was injured. He suffered a head injury, was transported to the hospital and later died from that injury. The name of the player is being withheld pending notification to all of the relatives.

This is a devastating loss for our community. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family, players and coaches. JCB auditorium will be open for counseling this morning for students and staff from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Counseling will also be available for students on Monday.

Updates will be posted as new information becomes available.”

Homer’s school district posted a note of sympathy on its website and is also making counselors available.


  1. Mike Barden got this Devastating News late Saturday Night. Mike is Ridges’ Grandfather and lives in Wichita Kansas. Mike is Grieving this loss Profoundly. He was so Proud and Loved his Grandson so much. One cannot imagine the depth that this loss reaches for the Barden Family, from a accident that one would never imagine would take the life of their Loved One. Ridge Barden held a Special Place in the Barden Family, and Our Prayers that the Family will Share with each other their strength and be Comforted by the Lord in this time of Grieving go out to them.

  2. What a devastating losss. He sounded like an awesome kid. I am a 1988 graduate of Homer Central. I played football there and also at Buffalo State. I look back at this and think how fortunate I am never to have experienced this type of injury either to myself or any teammate or opponent.
    What I don’t get is I can not remember ever hearing of so many head injuries. With all the technology today, how is is possible that we could play the game so long ago and not have these problems. Maybe it is the media who promote this issue more or maybe the kids are bigger and faster? I am trying to figure it out. My heart goes out to the family of Ridge.

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