Fielding questions after the Stoughton High football team's 25-6 win over heavily-favored Mansfield Friday night at home, head coach Greg Burke said that the team's season "is dedicated to all departed Stoughton High football players. They're with us thick an thin. We're playing it for them and the former players that have been here since 1926."
Late Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after this feel-good win, the Stoughton High football team lost another one of its family members, this time a current player.
David Wade, 17, a senior at Stoughton High School, died on Sept. 29 after he suffered a gunshot wound to the chest at his Turnpike St. home, Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said. Wade was shot by his 21-year-old brother in what was reported as an accidental shooting.
Dozens gathered Sunday night to mourn Wade's loss at a candlelight vigil held on Barnes Rd., right next to his Turnpike St. home. This followed a mass held in his memory at St. James Church.
Prior to Saturday's tragedy, Wade was right there on the field with his teammates Friday night.
"During the Mansfield game the last thing I said to Dave before everything happened was 'Do you enjoy blocking my view of the game' and he would always pump his shoulders up and do a tough guy impression (when I know he was such a nice guy who wouldn't hurt a fly) he would say 'YES, YES I DO' with that big smile of his," sophomore Bryan Nguyen, a teammate and close friend of Wade's, wrote in an email.
Wade was a lineman on the SHS football team (his jersey number was 56) and a past member of the school's cheerleading team. He was also part of the indoor track team last winter and a past member of the tennis team.
He is remembered by his peers and teachers as well-liked, kindhearted and good-natured - someone who was always happy, supportive and smiling, junior Alex Charette said.
"David Wade was a son, a brother, a friend, and a Knight. He was one of the first people I meet when I moved to Stoughton and entered [the O'Donnell Middle School] at the start of sixth grade. He was always so positive and never really had anything bad to say about anyone. David was always up for a good time and could put a smile on anyone's face," senior Chris Madden wrote in an email. "I've sat next to him everyday at lunch and it's going to be hard not seeing him anymore. I only hope that we can all remember him as he lived, and the Wade family can find happiness in this difficult time."
History teacher Mollie O'Connell, who had Wade in his junior year for American Studies, remembers a student with a passion and excitement for history. But more importantly, O'Connell remembers "what a great kid he was."
"The life of a high school student is all about me. That was never Dave. He was always so polite, so gentlemanly, so mature," she said. "He touched so many different groups in school...he could get along with everyone."
"Dave Wade was one of the nicest, hardest working kids that I knew, anything that was asked of him he did and then some," Brett Hoffman, fellow senior and member of the football team, wrote in an email. "He was a great friend, teammate, and all around person and he will be greatly missed."
"Dave was a great teammate and always brought a positive attitude to the football team. He was a loving and caring individual and it truly breaks my heart to see something so tragic like this to happen," Kevin Richard, a 2012 SHS graduate and captain on last year's football team, wrote in an email. "Stoughton Football has lost a fallen Knight and it will be hard for the indent Dave left on the team to be filled."
Prior to joining the football team, Wade was a member of the SHS cheerleading team, and made a lasting impression with his teammates there, too.
"Saturday, September 29, 2012 my best friend past away. He was a brother, a best friend, a person who was always there when ever I needed him," senior Donyea Holloway, a captain of this year's cheerleading team, wrote in an email.
"I will never forget the smile he had on his face and our fancy handshake we did anytime we were together. I will never forget the last words I said to him Friday Night before the game 'Good Luck Dave, I love you.' Rest in Peace Dave, I love you and I will never forget the memories we created throughout your short time with us," Holloway continued.
"Coming into freshman year cheerleading tryouts, Dave made me feel so welcome and treated me like a little sister. I will never forget the memories we shared and all the laughs. I will never forget him," wrote Erin Pike, who is now a junior.
Stephanie Amaral, a 2012 graduate of SHS, and past cheerleading captain, remembers Wade as a friend with a "contagious smile and a great laugh" and as someone who would always be there for you.
"Dave was more than just a teammate, he was a great leader, a hard working kid and most importantly a great friend to not only me but everyone on the cheerleading team," Amaral wrote in an email. "I remember always getting in trouble at practice from Coach Barbara [Mofford] because Dave, Evelyn [Falkof] and I would always be laughing and joking around on the back of the mat. It was hard not to be happy around him because He had such a contagious smile and a great laugh.
"He was the type of person you could always count on to be there for you, no matter what was going on. He was such a great kid and I'm going to miss him a lot but all the memories we shared will never be forgotten. I know that the cheer gods are taking good care of him up there for us. My heart goes out to the Wade family and my thoughts and prayers are with them during this hard time. Rest easy Dave, you will always be in mine and the entire stoughton cheerleading community's hearts."
Wade made an impression on those he met, even for just a brief period of time.
"I was talking to my dad on the phone and Dave got brought up. I played tennis with Dave a couple years back and he came over for a team dinner and all my dad could remember was how nice [he was] and what an appetite he had," Joey Ialuna, a 2012 graduate of Stoughton High, wrote.
And Dave made an impression on those he knew well.
"David was an amazing friend to me and my brother Stefanos [a senior]. I remember when the next best movie came out in the theaters, David, Stefanos, and I all made sure we had money ready to buy a ticket for it so we could all watch it together and then talk about how great or bad it was. Or when he'd stay over for dinner and end up having all-nighters with me and my brother and we all played Xbox," junior Nicholas Kampouris wrote in an email. "He was always so nice to everyone in the community and had nothing mean or rude to say, only good came from him. God bless him and the rest of the Wade family."
The football team has a saying - "us, we, together, forever," and the 4-0 Black Knights will go on this season playing for their fallen teammate.
"Dave Wade to me was my friend, my teammate, my brother," sophomore Kevin Lucas, a member of the football team, wrote. "He's in a better place now. As a football team were gonna finish out this season strong for him. Dave was the nicest kid I knew during football, track and even in school. we know he'll be on that field with us every Friday night cheering us on."
And the senior class at Stoughton High school will honor their fallen classmate.
"I am still in shock over what has transpired over the last 24 hours. My heart goes out to our entire community, it goes out to those who knew him and the loss they have suffered and it goes out to those who will never get the chance to know a wonderful young man like Dave," Tim Norton, Wade's engineering teacher, and advisor for the senior class, wrote.
"He touched so many people," O'Connell reiterated. "It's going to be really hard to move on from this."