Robert Swain remembered during pre-game ceremony at EHHS

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Mon., Oct. 14, 2013
Robert Swain's parents, Tanya Jones and Robert Swain, Jr., and the seniors on the football team pause for a moment of silence before Friday night's game against Hall. Photos by Corey AmEnde.
Robert Swain's parents, Tanya Jones and Robert Swain, Jr., and the seniors on the football team pause for a moment of silence before Friday night's game against Hall. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

Recent East Hartford High School graduate Robert Swain, who died in a car crash along with his younger brother La'Andrew Evans-Swain on July 14, was remembered on Friday, Oct. 11, during a tribute before the varsity football game against Hall. Robert, 18, was a three-sport athlete at EHHS, competing in football, wrestling and volleyball.

The Superman logo using a big white S with black fill, the initials R.S. and the number 24 were painted on the home side of the field at the 24-yard-line to pay respect to Swain. “To lose a player like that, a student athlete, a friend, but more or less a son, I’m at a loss for words,” said head football coach Rick Milton, who coached Swain his senior season.

Robert’s parents, Robert Swain, Jr., and Tanya Jones, stood near the 24-yard line, in front of the logo prior to kickoff for the pre-game tribute.  Jones and Swain held hands, as Jones wiped away tears. The seniors on the football team stood behind Robert’s parents to honor a moment of silence for their former teammate.

“It’s very special to be coming here to celebrate the life of Robert and what he meant to these kids,” said Swain, Jr. “I’m still hurting and my pain is still felt, but these kids in this community, they reach out to me all the time.”

Milton described Robert as the type of player that would do anything asked of him. “He’s the type of kid that would run through a wall for you and look at you and say, ‘I’ll do it again, coach,’” said Milton. The coach said that Swain demonstrated a work ethic that was second-to-none.

“There isn’t another Robert Swain because no one was every going to outwork Robert Swain – nobody,” said Milton.  “Didn’t matter who you were, Robert Swain was going to outwork you.”

Robert’s parents joined the captains at mid-field for the coin toss and were presented with a copy of a plaque remembering Robert that will be placed on the Wall of Fame at EHHS.  An “RS24” sticker was placed on the helmet of every EHHS football player.

“I’m proud of my son, I’ve always been,” said Swain, Jr.  “And these kids, they know.  He was their rallying point.”

EHHS falls to Hall, 40-19

After picking up wins in their last two games to climb to .500 on the season, the Hornets looked to improve to 3-2 with a win over Hall that Friday night, but a steady and successful ground attack by the Warriors powered them to a 40-19 win. Senior running back Jordon Bell led the way for Hall with 181 of the team’s 306 rushing yards, as the Warriors improved to 3-1 overall.  The Hornets drop to 2-3 with the loss.

“We lost to a better team – a better coached team,” said Milton.  “Hall came out, they executed, they did the things they had to do to win.”

Milton said the team had to change up their defensive scheme and play some younger guys due to a couple of key injuries that week.
“We had Garcia Brown, who had a concussion and didn’t get cleared until [Thursday] so he wasn’t able to practice all week, and losing David Rodriguez, our best defensive tackle, didn’t help,” said Milton, adding that injuries were not an excuse for getting beat at the line. 

Hall jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, keyed by a 72-yard touchdown run by Bell for Hall’s second score.  The Hornets responded on their very next possession with a seven-play drive capped off by a Griffin Michalek 18-yard pass to Mirajsh Barnes in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-6.

Hall answered back on their next possession to pad their lead to 21-6.  The Hornets finished off the offensive-filled first quarter with a Michalek 16-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Byrd to make the score 21-12. 

The score remained 21-12 through halftime and on the opening drive of the third quarter, the Hornets put together a seven-play drive that culminated with Michalek finding Byrd from 10 yards out for his second touchdown of the game.  This cut the lead to 21-19.  But Hall answered with touchdowns on each of their next two possessions to open up a 34-19 advantage.  Bell would add another rushing touchdown in the fourth to open up a 40-19 lead.

“We should have been 4-0 going into this game and right now we’re 2-3,” said Milton who added there isn’t any specific area that the team needs to improve on, just a sharper overall approach. “We need to come out and execute and come out with a better focus,” said Milton.

EHHS hosts Glastonbury this Friday at 7 p.m.

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