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Pinellas football community rallies around Northeast High

Varsity programs around the county are finding ways to honor senior Vikings captain Jacquez Welch, who died Monday.
The Countryside football program paints the No. 4 on its field in honor of Northeast football player Jacquez Welch, who died Monday. The field has also been repainted to represent Northeast's school colors.
The Countryside football program paints the No. 4 on its field in honor of Northeast football player Jacquez Welch, who died Monday. The field has also been repainted to represent Northeast's school colors. [  BRANDON RONACHER | Special to the Times ]
Published Sep. 26, 2019

The annual football game between neighboring rivals Osceola and Seminole is a big draw with many fans sporting blue, green and orange, the prominent colors of the two high schools.

On Friday, they all will be wearing red — Northeast’s primary color — in a show of solidarity for Jacquez Welch, the Vikings captain who was taken off life support after collapsing during a game last week.

Welch’s death has galvanized Pinellas County with nearly every public and private school paying tribute in some way.

For example:

• Clearwater Central Catholic and Clearwater both designed decals honoring Welch that will be displayed on their helmets the rest of the season. The Marauders also designed commemorative T-shirts they will wear during warmups. And the Tornadoes will unfurl a banner put together for Welch.

• Countryside is paying tribute with the No. 4 — Welch’s jersey number — painted in Northeast’s colors on the 40-yard line.

• Dixie Hollins, East Lake and Northeast all will be wearing helmet decals, too. The Rebels, who host the Vikings, will have players from both teams lock arms at midfield in a moment of silence before the game. Dixie Hollins fans also plan to wear red and are going to hand out stickers that honor Welch.

The shows of support started earlier in the week. On Tuesday, Palm Harbor University football coach Mike Mullaney had breakfast delivered to Northeast’s football team. A day later, Seminole’s football team met up with the Vikings for a catered dinner.

“It is amazing,” Northeast coach Jeremy Frioud said. “It’s truly uplifting to see all of the absolute genuine gestures.”

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