ADA, Minn. - Football teammates and rivals will honor and celebrate the life of a rural Minnesota high school football player known for his big smile and quick sense of humor.
Carter A. Peterson, 16, of Ada, a junior at Ada-Borup High School, was killed in a car crash about 10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 on the east edge of Borup.
Peterson's car collided with a pickup driven by Ethan M. Stensgard, 20, of Enderlin, N.D., at County Road 39 and Highway 9, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
Both vehicles rolled and Peterson's car caught fire. Peterson died of injuries suffered in the crash, while Stensgard suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, the patrol report said.
Kelly Anderson, principal and activities director at Ada-Borup High School, said because of Peterson's death, she gave the football team the option of forfeiting its varsity game against Cass Lake-Bena Wednesday night, Oct. 19, in Ada. Players chose to play the game in Carter's honor.
"Football is so minor compared to what happened," Anderson said. "For Carter, football was life."
The remembrance begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, with tailgating before the game and a free-will donation to help the Peterson family.
Anderson said Cass Lake-Bena will perform a drum circle and present the family with wild rice, a symbol of hope. That will be followed by a moment of silence. The Ada-Borup Cougars will then present the Peterson family with Carter's black number 63 jersey. Anderson said both teams will also wear helmet decals bearing Carter's number and his number will be painted on the middle of the football field.
The game was originally scheduled to be senior night.
"The seniors said, 'No, we're not going to do that,' " Anderson said.
Instead, they'll celebrate Peterson's life after the game with cake and ice cream, and some of the players will share their memories of him.
"In football, he was always the motivator," Anderson said, adding, "Never a dull moment in the locker room."
She said Peterson could find humor in anything he did. He had a laugh that went with the big smile.
"The kids can all emulate it," Anderson said.
The news of Carter's death hit hard at the school, especially among his junior class of around 40 students. Counselors were on hand to help the students talk through their emotions.
"We want them to understand it's going to be okay," Anderson said.
She said several other surrounding schools and their football teams are honoring Carter or raising money for his family. Some are making "Play for Petersons" shirts.
Carter A. Peterson is survived by his parents, Randy and Chasity Peterson, an older brother and a younger sister.
His funeral is at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at Grace Lutheran Church in Ada. Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the church, with a 6:30 prayer service.