Esko Football Team Plays First Game Since Death of Jackson Pfister

Ryan Juntti
Updated: October 17, 2019 08:18 AM

Wednesday night was an emotional rollercoaster for everyone around the Esko football program. The team beat Crosby-Ironton 33-0, but it was also their first game since the tragic loss of 15-year-old Jackson Pfister. He died Friday after collapsing during a football game in Aitkin.


"It was hell," said Esko Head Football Coach Scott Arntson describing what the week has been like without number 15.

"Anytime that you lose a player or someone's not there with you, it just leaves a big gap on the team," said Esko Quarterback Coach Tony DeLeon.

Arntson says it was considered not to play the game, but that the players ultimately decided to.

"Jackson himself would've wanted us to play. He wouldn't have wanted our season to end because of him. He was a competitor. He would've only wanted the best for us," said Arntson.

So when the Eskomos took the field on Wednesday night, they did so with Jackson's number on their jerseys and helmets.

But before the kickoff, a moment of silence was held to honor Jackson. Balloons were also released from the stands.

Throughout the game, a memorial was set up with flowers, photos, footballs, baseballs, and hockey pucks.

In a press conference following the game, two Esko players reflected on what Jackson meant to the team.

"Tonight was about Jackson, and everyone on the team knew that, and everyone played their hearts out for him," said Esko High School Senior Lincoln Severson. 

"Us seniors and the team as a whole, we just worked as hard as we could under the circumstances, and we just wanted to come out and just play our hardest for Jackson," said Esko High School Senior Dylan Vinje.

They did so, with the community behind them.

"There's a lot of people that care deeply for Jackson," said Arntson. "This is why we're here at Esko because people love each other," he added.

So during this tragic time, they have each other to lean on.

A preliminary report determined Jackson's death to be from Congenital Heart Disease.

The visitation for Jackson will be on Sunday beginning at 1:00 p.m. until the Mass of Christian Burial at 4:00 p.m. at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Cloquet.   

For highlights of Esko's win over Crosby-Ironton, and other area games, click here.


Ryan Juntti

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


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