Seventy-First football player dies after practice

Posted August 3, 2013
Updated August 4, 2013

— A junior at a Cumberland County high school has died after falling ill at the end of football practice.

Superintendent Frank Till said 16-year-old Evan Raines, a junior at Seventy-First High School in Fayetteville, went to a coach at the end of Saturday's light practice saying he didn't feel well.

Raines was treated by emergency medical workers before he was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he died.

Raines' parents said Sunday that their son had passed two physical examinations prior to the beginning of practice and that he had no health issues or history of heart problems.

"We have no answers," his father, Rodney Raines, said. "He was fine."

All they know, they said, is that his heart stopped. They are awaiting autopsy results to find out his cause of death.

"We lost him chasing his dream, but he was our dream," Rodney Raines said.

Friends and family say the 6-foot-1, 210-pound defensive end for the Falcons loved football and showed tremendous potential. His dream was to play for the University of Alabama and then in the NFL.

He also loved God, his mother, Sheila Raines, said, and was a well-rounded, good-hearted young man who enjoyed music, his friends and playing pranks.

"Evan had a way of making us laugh, of making us smile, said Jovon McCean, his youth pastor at True Vines Ministries in Fayetteville.

Although the school year hasn't started, Till said grief counselors will be on hand on Monday to talk to players, as well as cheerleaders, who were at the school when Raines became ill.

According to, Seventy-First was 0-10 last season. Their first game of the 2013 season is slated for Aug. 23, at home against Westover.

Funeral arrangements for Evan Raines have not yet been finalized.