Father says Halpin had reached his goal of playing for varsity team

Updated: December 3, 2008, 3:37 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

A Los Gatos (Calif.) High School football player died Tuesday after collapsing in front of his high school following a team meeting to go over game film.

Michael Halpin, a 17-year-old senior defensive lineman, was not known to have any pre-existing medical condition, according to the San Jose Mercury News, other than a broken hand for which he had surgery six weeks ago.

An autopsy will be performed Wednesday.

Michael Halpin's father, Timothy, told the Mercury News that his son was with a classmate when his son's hand apparently began having spasms. Timothy Halpin said he was told his son clenched his hand, fell on his knees and became unconscious. Efforts to revive him at the school were unsuccessful.

"We don't know much right now, to be honest. They took him to Good Samaritan Hospital and 40 minutes later we got word back that he had passed away,'' said coach Butch Cattolico, who canceled practice after the team learned of Halpin's death, according to the Mercury News.

Los Gatos is in the Central Coast Section Medium School final, where it will play Palo Alto High School on Saturday at San Jose City College.

Timothy Halpin said his son, at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, had worked for three years to play for the varsity team, and finally reached his goal, playing as a defensive line reserve for the Wildcats (9-3), according to the newspaper report.

"For the last three years he had been working out with his buddies, lifting weights, trying to get in shape to play," Halpin told the Mercury News. "He enjoyed football, the camaraderie. The last three years of high school, he really grew up."

Cattolico told the newspaper the team would meet to discuss how to approach the rest of the week, and what to do about the championship game.

"Michael was one of the guys -- he always gave 100 percent in practice, and off the field he was the nicest guy, everyone got along with him," junior quarterback Nick Hirschman said in the Mercury News.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.