Mr. East River.

Thus the Falcons football coach Tony Cook Nick Miner will always be missed.

“He was the most popular and most visible young man on campus,” Piccolo said Tuesday afternoon. “Ask any of our players who was the undisputed leader of the team, and they’ll say it was him.”

An 18-year-old miner was tragically killed Sunday morning when he used his F-150 truck to pull another truck off the shoulder of the road onto Dallas Boulevard in east Orange County. The third vehicle collided with the trucks.This caused the minor to be ejected from his vehicle and pinned underneath it.

Four of Miner’s colleagues were at the scene when it happened.

“Nick was our team leader, our captain, our Mr. East River Football,” Piccolo said. “To me, he’s the epitome of what you want in a student-athlete.”

East River (3-5, 1-2) hosts Lake Howell (5-3, 1-2) in Class 3M (Metro) District 2. Contest tonight at 7 p.m

The game serves as homecoming for the Falcons. Miner, a state qualifier in boys weightlifting last spring, was previously selected to the homecoming court.

Lake Howell players will wear No. 8 decals on their helmets and the Silver Hawks cheer team will wear red, silver and white ribbons in honor of the minor.

“It affects a lot of kids when it comes to thinking about their own mortality,” Lake Howell coach Sean Lorenzono said.

“[Our kids] Wondering if we’re even going to play games, and feeling sympathy and empathy and trying to figure it all out. I’m trying to fire them, and I can only imagine it. [Piccalo] Trying to do with my kids.”

Lorenzano learned of the minor’s death hours after his 74-year-old father passed away Sunday morning at a nearby nursing home.

“Now we have to show these kids a good example of how to deal with things like this,” Lorenzono said. “There are kids who are going through this or have been through this who are watching me and how I’m handling myself, and I want to make sure I do well for them.

“Everything you go through is a lesson,” he said.

Minor, a former East Orange Thunder youth football player, was a three-year starter at East River who passed for 2,043 yards and totaled 1,077 yards with 33 touchdowns in 22 games, according to Max Preps.

He had deep roots in East River, where his brothers also attended. His father is a volunteer assistant coach and his mother has been involved in the booster club.

Thursday’s game, which takes place just five days after the crash, is expected to draw a large crowd of mourners and supporters. The Falcons finish their regular season at home next Friday vs. Oak Ridge (1-7).

“There’s no right way to do it,” Piccolo said of returning to the field. “As the head coach, I’m just trying to right the ship. I don’t know how we’re going to get through it, but we’re going to get through it.

A GoFundMe account under the name “Funeral Expenses for Miner’s Family” It had raised more than $54,000 as of Wednesday morning.

This article was originally published by OrlandoSentinel.com. Email JC Carnahan. jcarnahan@orlandosentinel.com.

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