LINDEN – Xavier McClain, a Linden High School football player, who was critically injured in a game earlier this month, has died, school district officials announced.
"Xavier was critically injured during a varsity football game on Sept. 9, 2022. He has been hospitalized since and tragically passed away last evening. We are extremely saddened by his untimely death," acting Superintendent of Schools Denise Cleary said in an email Thursday to district staff.
McClain, a sophomore, was injured in a Friday night victory over Woodbridge. He suffered an apparent head injury while returning a kickoff at the beginning of the second half.
The Linden High School athletics department directed all requests for comment to the superintendent's office.
Cleary, a former Linden High School principal, extended condolences to McClain's family. She said counselors and social workers would be available at the high school for all students, staff and families in need.
Mayor Derek Armstead, who has known Xavier and his brother, Andres, and their parents, Norm and Lisa McClain, since the boys were young, said he's good friends with the family.
"My heart goes out to Norm and Lisa," said Armstead, adding his sons played against the McClain boys when they were younger. "It's a sad day here in Linden."
Armstead described McClain as a very good athlete, very respectful, but tough on the football field.
The mayor said he was at the Sept. 9 game and saw a player go down but didn't know who it was. McClain left the field in an ambulance and Armstead said he learned later it was McClain.
"With your prayers, Xavier fought a good fight. In the end, he succumbed to the injuries that he sustained a couple weeks ago while playing football during the LHS Tigers’ game vs Woodbridge," Armstead wrote earlier in a Facebook post. "Norm and Lisa are devastated. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around. I asked that you continue to keep the family in your prayers"
The mayor said the community would be gathering to see what it can do to help the McClain family.
Linden football is scheduled to play host to Perth Amboy at 7 p.m. Friday.
Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Linden football player dies after game injury, school announces