Former Garden Grove All-County football player Austen Christian, 19, died early Saturday morning after a car crash near the school, Argonauts football coach Ricardo Cepeda confirmed Monday morning.
(Christian is pictured far right)
Christian's car reportedly crashed into a block wall and a telephone pole. Police said the single-car accident took place about 1:40 a.m. No one else was in the car.
"I've known him since he was a little kid so it's been tough," Cepeda said of Christian, a standout wide receiver/cornerback. "Good kid. He was getting in shape to play this year, has been working hard. (He) took a year off to get a little bigger but it's pretty disheartening here at school today."
Orange Coast College football coach Kevin Emerson said Christian practiced with the Pirates last year but wasn't eligible in the fall. There was talk of Christian returning to Orange Coast this summer, the coach said.
"He was a great young man who did work hard," Emerson said in a text message. "We will miss him."
Cepeda said grief counselors were available today at the school, where Christian was well-known as a football player.
He capped a three-year varsity career by playing in the inaugural Inland Empire-Orange County and Orange County all-star games in 2015. He was a second-team All-County pick in 2014 and graduated in 2015.
He was selected the Garden Grove League defensive MVP in 2014, helping the Argonauts finish 13-1 and claim the CIF-SS Southern Division title. He also helped Garden Grove finish as the CIF-SS Southern Division runner-up in 2012 and 2013 to Corona del Mar.
Cepeda, who also coaches baseball, said it was difficult to play on Saturday.
"So many kids were friends with him," Cepeda said. "It was tough to play."
Christian's sister plays softball at Garden Grove and his older brother, Steve, also attend the school.
The Argonauts football program has endured a few heartbreaks in recent years. Former standout Kevin Telles died in September of 2009 after collapsing in a game against Westminster. The Argonauts' coach that season, Joe Hay, died in 2012 at age 41.
"Just too many at this school," Cepeda said. "Our school is pretty tight-knit."
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