CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Though Capital safety James Richmond will miss one person cheering for him in the stands, he'll have a whole team to support him when the Cougars take on Martinsburg this weekend.
A four-year starter for the Cougars, James is a team player, head football coach Jon Carpenter said. It was the team that brought him back after he took a break from football earlier this year.
James missed five games early in the season after his father, Jamie Richmond, died in September at the age of 46. His death came just days after James' 18th birthday.
James said his father, who played football at DuPont High School and later West Virginia State College, had been ill, but his death was unexpected.
The two were close, and the elder Richmond, he said, helped him hone his football skills. James said that though his father was sick, he tried to make it to every game he could. Cold weather games were particularly hard on him.
His death left James saddened and with a lot on his mind.
"It was a lot of stuff running through my mind; everything was crazy," James said of his decision to leave. "It was tough. Big loss."
The teen had two injuries already this year and was dealing with the stresses of his final year of high school when he lost his father. Carpenter said James was overwhelmed and that it was starting to show.
The coach said in his first attempt at "tough love," he told James he needed to "fix it" and deal with his issues or leave the team. James left the team.
His teammates were supportive the entire time, he said. Several came to his father's funeral. But it didn't stop there, he said.
They called and came by his Charleston home to talk with him and to make sure he was OK. They told him they missed him and wanted him back on the field. He spent two weeks away from the team before deciding to return.
"My team needed me and I needed them," James said. "I have people on this team I can talk to about it and know that they're here for me. I'm here for them as well."
He's played several positions and often on both sides of the ball. At the beginning of the year, he played running back on offense and safety on defense. His absence meant some shifting around for the players.
Several teammates stepped up while he was absent. Junior Kashaun Haley, who ranks among the state's leaders for carries and touchdowns, shifted into the running back position along with freshman Silas Nazario, James' cousin.