Young Linden football standout dies of apparent head injury in game on September 9

A second tragedy in two weeks struck Union County when Linden University sophomore Xavier McLain died Wednesday of an apparent head injury in the Sept. 9 Big Central Conference game against Woodbridge. has occurred.

The fatal injury, suffered just one day after Rahway senior Ali Muhamad died in his sleep, was discovered by his father who tried to wake him up to go to school.

Xavier took a beating as he returned to Linden’s second-half kickoff, according to game officials who weren’t allowed to speak publicly. A video of the game showed that play was interrupted and an ambulance arrived at Linden’s sideline about ten minutes after the end of play.

Xavier’s death was announced late Wednesday night by Linden Mayor Derek Armstead on several of his social media platforms. I received confirmation of the death of a 16-year-old by email.

“We prayed for a miracle together and hoped for a different outcome,” Armstead wrote in posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I needed an angel and decided to call Xavier home to be with me.

“This news is heartbreaking as I’ve known his parents, Lisa and Norm, and their two sons, Xavier and Andres, since childhood,” Armstead continued. “Sadly, their worst fears have come true.”

Linden won 31–0 over Woodbridge, with Xavier making a big contribution on both sides of the ball. He carried two for 18 yards, caught an eight-yard pass from Tecan Thomas, and made four tackles from the secondary.

Xavier (5-5, 132 lbs) is an up-and-coming star for head coach Al Kiora, who even joined the lineup as a freshman last season. He was one of several sophomores to start or earn regular playing time for the Tigers this season.

Linden (1-2) were scheduled to host Perth Amboy at home on Friday at 7pm in their Liberty Gold Division matchup, but that match was moved to Saturday at 1pm at Linden. Linden’s coach declined to comment.

Eerily, neighboring Linden and Rahway started the season against each other in a cross-divisional Big Central battle. Rahway won his 21-20 victory. Ali Muhammad, who did not play in that match, died six days later. His wake service is being held today (Thursday) in Roselle.

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To contact Mike Kinney: [email protected]follow him on twitter @MikeKinneyHS.

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