Jay Hooks, assistant principal at Lincoln High, said students would be allowed to meet with counselors in small groups or on an individual basis. Local ministers were also be at the school to talk with students.
Howard, the former head coach at Lincoln and Ragland, died Friday after leaving the Lincoln-Etowah football game at halftime complaining of not feeling well. He was transported by ambulance to Riverview Regional Medical Center in Gadsden where a doctor pronounced him dead on arrival. He was 48 years old.
Lincoln assistant coaches received word of Howard’s death with several minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of the Golden Bears’ season opener at Etowah. They told the players after the game ended.
Mike Snyder, youth minister at Eastaboga Baptist Church where many LHS students attend, talked with several students about Howard’s death and said they were taking the news as well as could be expected.
“I think a lot of them are still in a state of shock that it’s actually happened,” Snyder said Saturday. “I think a lot of them understand that God has a plan and his plan is not always our plan, but it’s the best plan.
“The ones that play football, they’re wanting to play this week. It’s kind of opened their eyes to the importance of life. They’re doing good. I’m real proud of them.”
The football team is scheduled to host Cleburne County in the first region game of the season tonight. Hooks said that game will be played as scheduled.
“Coach Howard always told the kids Lincoln football was here before him and would be here after him,” Hooks said Saturday. “He would want us to play.”
Hooks coached with Howard prior to serving as assistant principal.
“It definitely was a shock,” Hooks said. “He was a great man, a great friend. He is truly going to be missed, especially by these kids. He was always giving of himself, his time, his money, everything for these kids.”
Former LHS players T.J. Hoyt and Tiger Williams were shocked to hear about Howard’s death. Both remembered the Lincoln native as more than a coach.
“He is going to be missed here in Lincoln,” Hoyt said. “He was not just a football coach; he was an icon. He was like a father to me. He came here when I was in eighth grade and he taught me everything I know. He helped me on and off the field. He will be greatly missed. You can’t replace Coach Howard.”
Williams, a freshman at Jacksonville State University and a member of the Gamecocks’ football team, found out about Howard’s death Friday night when he was getting out of practice.
“He was a great guy,” Williams said. “He put everything he could into being the best football team, but at the end of the day he wanted us to be better men, better role models for the community and better men in life.”
Funeral services were held Tuesday at the Lincoln High School football field.
— Sports reporter LaVonte Young contributed to this report.