Huge applause erupts at Aurora/Avon football game after mourning school wins coin toss

PARMA, Ohio - Huge applause erupted after a Portage County high school that lost a varsity football player in a car crash won the coin toss in a playoff game Friday night.

Just before the start of the game at Byers Field in Parma, four Aurora High School co-captains marched onto the field holding hands and displaying Paul McGhee's number 57 jersey between them. McGhee, a sophomore at Aurora, was a reserve defensive end and offensive lineman. He was also a starter on the special teams squad.

Police said McGhee, 16, was killed after he drove off the road and struck a tree in Aurora on Thanksgiving.

After the coin was flipped and Aurora won the toss over Avon, the players walked back toward their bench and the crowd exploded in applause. Aurora fans were displaying "57" signs and holding up photos of McGhee.

A short time later, sobs could be heard coming from the stands as the PA announcer talked about the details of the crash. Then, a moment of silence was given in McGhee's honor.

The Greenmen also wore "57" stickers on their helmets, as well as special black jerseys that are normally only worn once a season. Coaches, friends and parents carried white and green ribbons and bandanas with the number 57 on them.

Aurora coach Bob Mihalik said McGhee's parents told school officials that their son would have wanted the team to play in the semifinal game.

Avon defeated Aurora in the game, 43 to 20.

McGhee's sister is a graduate of Aurora High School, and two of his siblings still attend the school.

Calling hours for McGhee will take place Sunday, Nov. 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. inside the gymnasium at Aurora High School. The funeral service will begin at 5 p.m. at the gym. A private burial service is scheduled for Monday.

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