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Teen football player dies after injury during game on Long Island

ELWOOD, N.Y. -- A high school football player has died after he collided with an opponent and collapsed during a game on Long Island.

Authorities say Tom Cutinella, a junior and player for Shoreham-Wading River High School, died at a hospital Wednesday night after suffering a head injury during a game with John Glenn High School in Elwood.

A spokeswoman for the school district tells Newsday that Cutinella had been in the intensive-care unit after undergoing surgery.

Suffolk County police say the collision happened about 6 p.m. Cutinella, a guard/linebacker, was injured during the third quarter of the varsity game.

Dozens of teammates, relatives and friends waited at the hospital for an update on his condition. As news of his death spread, "Students cried out. Two people fell to the ground, weeping, and dozens of friends and teammates consoled each other," Newsday reports.

The newspaper says Shoreham's head football coach, Matt Millheiser, "sat alone in a corner with his hands folded, his face frozen," and remarked that Cutinella "was a great kid."

Shoreham-Wading River Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Cohen said in a statement, "Our school community is truly devastated by this awful news and we all extend our deepest condolences to Tom's family and friends during this difficult time.

"Tom played football for the district since he entered the high school in ninth grade, becoming a member of the varsity team this year. In addition, Tom played lacrosse and was a member of the Natural Helpers program, which focuses on peers helping peers. He excelled academically, had a great sense of humor and was just a great individual overall. He was well-liked among students and staff and he will truly be missed.

"Each student is a valued member of our educational community and a young person's death is always tragic. A sudden loss like this can have a profound effect on the entire school community. Grief counselors will be made available to students and staff for as long as needed as we mourn and cope with the loss of such an amazing life."

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