SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — John Messinger recalled a big win in 2010 with his quarterback Tyler Harris running the offense for the South Charleston Black Eagles.
“We stripped the ball and took it for a touchdown near the end of the game,” said Messinger. “Everybody was excited and high fiving and I got hit from behind and landed out near the hash mark. When I turned around, there was Tyler grinning. He just about took me out.”
The grin is what Messinger and many will remember most about Tyler Harris.He was always laughing and cutting up, yet remained completely focused on the task at hand during a football game. The standout quarterback for South Charleston from 2008 to 2010 was murdered Wednesday night at his home in Lynchburg, Virginia.
“There’s a bond that can never be broken. You don’t have to talk every day and you don’t have to know each other’s business, but it’s a bond and Tyler was special,” Messinger said only hours after learning the news. “We’ve suffered a great loss. My heart goes out to his family, his friends, his teammates, and anybody who knew him. It’s a heartbreaking tragedy.”
Lynchburg police indicate 25 year old Harris was shot multiple times and later died at a nearby hospital. Charged in his murder is Asa Hogue, 35, of Lynchburg.
The Capital Football family sends our condolences and prayers to South Charleston and their community. Tyler Harris, you’ll be missed and in our hearts!! Some things are bigger than sports and we are with you in this time of grieving 😥#RIP
— Capital High Football (@CapHighFootball) August 30, 2018
Harris led South Charleston to back to back state football championships in 2008 and 2009. He won the Kennedy Award in 2009, his junior season, awarded annually to the best high school football player in West Virginia.
“It didn’t matter what game, what situation, what was going wrong. You always knew if you put the ball in Tyler’s hands he was going to either get that critical first down, or get that touchdown. He was going to make something happen,” Messinger explained. “He just refused to lose.”
Current Black Eagles Head Coach Donnie Mays was the offensive coordinator when Harris played.
“I’m just sick. I loved Tyler,” said Mays.
Mays put out this statement on social media about Harris’ contribution to the Black Eagle program and their relationship:
‘I had the honor and privilege of coaching one of the greatest high school football players in the state of West Virginia in Tyler Harris. He was by far the toughest, most hard-nosed, win-at-all cost players I have ever been around. Our relationship was special and we continued this long after his high school years. We’d check in on each other fairly often and wish each other the best of luck in our endeavors and Tyler would always give words of wisdom to whomever the new SC QB was at the moment and wanted me to share his thoughts. To this day, Tyler Harris stories in the coaches office make us laugh with his contagious sense of humor, give us chill bumps while remembering the special plays he made on the field, or now make us cry at the thought of losing someone we loved. I’m truly at a loss for words as I sit here typing this. I pray for Jay and the family. We love you and you will be missed.”
The team will honor Harris’ memory on Friday night when they play Capital at South Charleston High School. They will wear his initials and his #5 on their helmet and dress in black pants and orange jerseys–the same color scheme worn when Harris played a decade ago In addition, the school has asked fans to wear throwback South Charleston jerseys or shirts from the Harris’ era and to make signs honoring his life. A collection will also be taken up to help the family with any expenses needed.