Detroit Catholic Central football player, 15, dies

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Stephen Sylvester, a 15-year-old sophomore in the Detroit Catholic Central football program, died Saturday, five days after collapsing during a conditioning practice.

“We are incredibly saddened by the passing of Stephen," a statement from Detroit Catholic Central read. "He was a bright young man, and a valued member of the school community. At this point we ask for some privacy for the family, our students, our faculty, and our staff while we work to support all of those so intimately impacted by this loss.”

Catholic Central Public Relations Director Jake Marmul declined further comment.

Sylvester was listed on Catholic Central’s 53-man varsity roster for the 2021 season by MaxPreps. He was also a member of the track team.

Michigan High School Athletic Association Communications Director Geoff Kimmerly said Tuesday there is no official list of activities allowed regarding preseason conditioning.

"Equipment can’t be a part of drills if the conditioning is taking place during preseason down time, which is basically what football players all over the state take part in every year during the week before official practice begins,” Kimmerly said.

Detroit King sixth-year head coach Tyrone Spencer discussed how his program approaches conditioning.

“You have different ways that you can get guys acclimated and get them in shape," Spencer said. "So conditioning is just where you kind of have a time that they have to make. It’s not like a full blown out sprint, but like we have 20 of these and you need to make them at 20 seconds. We do 110s where you start at the back of the end zone and you finish through the goal line, 110 yards, and everybody has a certain time, skilled players, linemen and big skill.

“For our guys that struggle, if they are young or whatever, you just tell them to try not to quit, just try to continue to keep going. And, there will be times when we’ll do sprint work, a certain amount of 40s or go half gassers where they'll go sideline to sideline, down and back. We do that all June and July, so they’ll be ready for when camp starts.

“Our conditioning camp was Saturday, so everybody did a conditioning test to show that they were ready, and guys who didn’t pass are still in conditioning now. We had 16 110s on Saturday where the kids had to make their time.

"You just have to keep an eye on the kids too, especially when you have big guys who are young. Make sure they have water, things like that. And, you have to remind the position coaches too because they like to be hard on their kids. As a head coach you know that things can happen.”

Catholic Central fifth-year head coach Dan Anderson directed his players through their first day of practice Monday.

Catholic Central opens its season Aug. 26 against Clinton Township Chippewa Valley in the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.

Catholic Central enters the season as the defending Catholic League champion and ranked No. 5 in The News preseason poll with 11 starters back from last year’s 9-1 team, which reached the Division 1 regional finals.

Catholic Central has won 14 state championships, five in the 1990s and four more in the 2000s, with its last state title coming in 2009.

david.goricki@detroitnews.com