New Jersey HS football player dies after suffering head injury

A standout New Jersey high school soccer player died Wednesday as a result of an apparently traumatic brain injury sustained during a game two weeks ago, officials said.

The tragic death of Linden High School sophomore Xavier McClain, 16, was announced by Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, a close friend of the McClain family.

Xavier was injured in a September 9 game against Woodbridge and was dealt a brutal blow when he returned a kick-off to start the second half, sources familiar with the incident told

Game footage shows an ambulance stopping on the sidelines after the crushing impact, the outlet reported.

McClain was in a coma in University Hospital for nearly two weeks, according to Armstead, who was at the game, News12 reported.

The head injury McClain sustained was two weeks before his death.
Instagram / derekarmstead

“Together we prayed for a miracle and hoped for a different outcome. I trust God knows better,” Armstead wrote in a social media post.

“With your prayers, Xavier has fought a good battle. He eventually succumbed to injuries sustained while playing football during the LHS Tigers’ game against Woodbridge a few weeks ago.”

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“This news hurts because I’ve known his parents, Lisa and Norm, for years, Xavier and Andres, their two sons, since they were little boys,” Armstead continued. “Tragically, their worst fear came true.”

Linden High School sophomore Xavier McClain
Xavier McClain was a budding star on the Linden High School Tigers team.

Linden School District staff learned of Xavier’s death in an email from the inspector Thursday morning, according to

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Xavier was one of the few select sophomores to earn a tee time on the school’s varsity team, even playing as an occasional freshman last year, the outlet reported.

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