Christian players stand during a pregame tribute Friday for their teammate Jason Lyon, who died Thursday night.
EL CAJON Homecoming games are a time to renew friendships and swap lies about the glory days.
The only tears are those of joy as classmates catch up on old times.
Christian High had all those things Friday as the school district celebrated its 50th anniversary in a City League football game against Serra at Granite Hills.
But there was a different tone to the evening after the passing of Jason Lyon late Thursday afternoon.
A three-sport letterman — football, soccer and baseball — at Christian, Lyon died after losing his three-month battle with DIPG, a rare form of brain cancer.
Before Jason was named Homecoming King at halftime, his sister Ashley read his testimony before a hushed crowd. The Lyon family received an extended standing ovation from the crowd when they were introduced on the field.
“I knew Jason my entire life, and his death really makes you appreciate the little things in life,” Christian linebacker Brandon Hester said before the Patriots’ 56-0 win. “He was a great guy, and we’re going to give 100 percent every play the rest of the season because that’s what Jason would have wanted.
“We’ve gone through a lot of emotion, so football is a way to express — I don’t want to say anger — but frustration over his passing.
“We were able to visit him in the hospital before he died. We were able to lay in bed with him.
“I think we all grew closer to him and each other.
“Losing a friend is hard, but we’re a faith-based school, and we have to trust God has a plan for Jason.”
Last week in a game against Henry, Christian’s faith was tested.
Playing with jerseys with “Lyon Hearted” on the front as a tribute to their teammate, Christian trailed 26-7 before catching fire and winning 34-26.
“Thinking of Jason definitely motivated us, made us dig deeper late last week,” said Christian quarterback David Jeremiah, who carried Lyon’s No. 88 jersey with him for the pregame coin toss Friday.
“Jason’s passing was a gradual thing, so we were able to prepare for it. We’re at peace with it.
“Still, his illness and now his death hits me in waves.
“Little things trigger memories. We loved going to Padres games together. I’ll really miss that.”
Lyon was an outstanding student, an Ivy League or military academy-type student, who had hopes of attending Navy.
His father, Jason, is a firefighter. His mother, Allison, is a nurse.
“Jason was an unbelievable kid from a great family,” said Christian Athletic Director David Beezer.
“His struggles, his life has impacted every person on our campus — not just the football players or students.
“The theme of our football team this season is ‘family.’
“Tonight we gathered as a family to celebrate the life of one of our family members.”