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WTXL Road Trip: BC3's Memories Live On Through Others

WTXL Road Trip: BC3's Memories Live On Through Others
Posted at 1:00 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-25 19:11:59-04

QUITMAN, Ga. (WTXL) - On July 9th, 2013 the Brooks County football team experienced a tragedy no young person should ever have to go through. A car accident claimed the lives of three Trojan football players, while injuring another. 

The accident impacted the entire community, and the "BC3" as they're known, changed the landscape of the Quitman community. Their memories live on, and now, one current Trojan is looking to represent his brothers memory the best way he knows how- by playing football.

Three wooden crosses outside of Brooks County's locker room mark the significance of Jicarre Watkins, Shawn Waters, and Johnnie Parker to the Trojan football team. On the practice field is another reminder, as suiting up for the Trojans come fall, is rising freshman Ernest Whitfield III, Shawn's younger brother.

"I've been looking forward to this for all my life," said Whitfield. "I want to follow in my brother's footsteps, and do what he did and everybody else does."

"The things he says and the way he acts is just like Shawn," reflected Tisha Waters-Whitfield, the mother of Ernest and Shawn. "In the beginning, it was tough. At times it is tough, but he loves the game just like his brother Shawn, so it makes me smile."

A smile brought on by Ernest, strength given to Waters-Whitfield on those tough days.

"To see him have the motivation to want to play and follow in his brother's footsteps, that does it for me," she smiled.

"I'm not trying to expect him to do what Shawn did, I'm expecting him to do the best he can," said head football coach Maurice Freeman. "In the background, when you see him moving around, you're saying, is he moving like Shawn? I think right now, Shawn's saying 'get him coach! Get him coach! Make him tough!'"

There's one difference between the two, as Ernest is trying to finish something that Shawn didn't get to, and that's bring a State Championship back to Quitman.

"Everybody wants it, so we have to grind harder at practice every day," he said. "We have to want it."

"We're a close knit community. When you lose some kids like that, at that age, it's tough," said Freeman. "It just assists with getting a little closer to the rest of them and loving on them."

 "Shawn, Jicarre, Johnnie, they're always be on the field," said Waters-Whitfield. "They'll always be on the field. The kids, they play for them. They play for them and they will always be with them."

The fourth player in that accident was Devron Whitfield, who is also Waters-Whitfield's son. He was injured, but returned to Brooks County and played two more years for the Trojans.