Cascade Cadets football team honors teammate that died in car crash

Cascade High School Student.jpg
Posted at 10:45 PM, Aug 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-23 22:53:48-04

CLAYTON — The Cascade Cadets took the football field on Friday night with 12 seniors leading the way, and one more there in spirit.

“We try to embrace Ryan Bell as much as we can. He is still part of the family. He will always be a part of the family,” Cascade’s football coach Connor Simmons said.

Ryan Bell, 17, died when his vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree as he was traveling eastbound on US 40 in Stilesville.

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He died on what would have been his first day of practice for his senior year season on the Cascade football team.

“To be honest with you, it’s hard trying to get the kids in the right mindset to play a game after that,” Simmons said. “After tragedy strikes, how do you get them back to thinking about football?”

The days that followed the crash were not easy, but both the team and community found strength in each other to make it through the tough times.

“They’ve been there for each other. Not just the seniors, but everybody is in that family mindset. Everybody has learned on each other, whether it’s at practice, in the locker room or off the field,” Simmons said.

Bell was known by many in the school as “Dolla.” His favorite color was orange.

During Friday night’s game, the stands were packed with community members wearing orange T-shirts with dollar signs printed on them to honor Bell.

“Walking out there and seeing a whole bunch of orange dollar signs was a moment where you just sit back and realize he was so loved in the community,” Simmons said. “It’s the community’s support that makes this such a special place.”

The memories of a teammate gone too soon are now a legacy left by a young man that will go far beyond his 17 years.

“They’re talking about how big of an influence Ryan Bell was and how good of a person he was, and that’s what you want in a community,” Simmons said.

Bell’s teammates say he will be remembered for his pregame speeches. He was also a member of the Cascade wresting team.