EL CAJON, Calif. -- Hundreds of students and athletes from all over East County gathered at Granite Hills High School Friday night in memory of William Burton, a star athlete killed in a traffic collision in Alpine.
William Burton, 17, was riding in the back of a Jeep Wrangler that didn't have a rear seat when the crash occurred shortly after a season-ending team banquet.
The California Highway Patrol said the crash occurred around 8:30 p.m. Monday, when the westbound vehicle he was riding in collided with an SUV on South Grade Road near the gated community of Rancho Palo Verde.
William died at the scene of the wreck, which left four other people with minor to moderate injuries, the CHP reported.
"Seeing everybody just helps me inside because that's all that's really been able to keep me together is my friends and being with the people that were close with him," teammate Garett Curran said at the candlelight vigil.
When William's coach saw so many people coming together from not just Granite Hills but other schools in the county, Coach Cobb said he knew how the football star would have reacted.
"He'd have a big ol' smile on his face, seeing everybody come together for him," Cobb said.
Will was a standout defensive lineman who was recently named to the CIF All-San Diego first team defense. He also led all Eagles receivers and tight ends with 28 catches for 287 yards and four touchdowns.
One of his best performances came during a game against Steele Canyon in September, when he caught two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 2.9 seconds left in the contest.
The Granite Hills senior, who also played baseball at the El Cajon campus, is survived by his parents, Bradford and Donna, and brothers, Jake and Zachary.
On Saturday, Steele Canyon players plan to honor Burton at their state Division 3-A championship football game against Half Moon Bay starting at 6 p.m. at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.