, Muskogee, OK


September 23, 2012

Tragedy again hits Stigler football program: Leading receiver second player to die this season

— For the second time in two months, Stigler High School’s football program is reeling with tragedy.

Gordon Parsons, the Panthers’ leading receiver who wasn’t with the team for Friday’s game against Spiro, was found dead on Friday night, coach Chris Risenhoover said.

Stigler defeated Spiro, 48-16.

Risenhoover said Parsons was found “around kickoff” in Tamaha. Tamaha is a town northeast of Stigler and south of Vian.

The Panthers’ coach said he didn’t see the player at the pep assembly earlier in the day on Friday.

“I called his phone and didn’t get a response,” Risenhoover said.

Other details of the death were not known.

A dispatcher for the Haskell County Sheriff’s Department referred any questions to sheriff Brian Hale on Monday.

Back in July, starting center Cory Casinger died in single-car crash.

“It’s terrible to lose two buddies. Everybody’s down in the dumps,” senior Ryan Echelle said. “We’d just gotten over the loss of teammate and we were making it. Now, we’ve got to relive it again.”

Echelle said he last saw Parsons, a tight end-defensive end, at a team meeting on Thursday night.

“Actually, we were reading the Bible. That’s something we do every Thursday night,” Echelle said. “The last thing I heard him say was, ‘Take off your hats before we read the Bible.’ Everybody did. Gordon and I were really close and grew up (in First Baptist Church in Stigler) together.

“We’re now going to have two empty lockers in our locker room. It’s going to be like two empty spaces in our hearts.”

Risenhoover said his coaches in the pressbox were hearing about Parsons’ death. Risenhoover said he received confirmation after the game, then told the players.

“I’m numb right now,” he said. “I’m concerned for our kids, coaches, the community and the families,” he said. “There’s no explanation for this.”

Stigler quarterback Cade Shearwood said he “cried their eyes out” when the coach told the team the news.

“We’re a really close knit group,” he said. “You never really know how close until something like this happens. (Parsons) was fun-loving and cared about everybody. He was a great guy and a good friend.”

Currently, Stigler players wear the number 65 for Cassinger on their helmets.

Risenhoover said he didn’t know what the plans will be to honor Parsons.

“We’ll discuss that as a team on Monday,” he said.

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