Manchester football player reported dead on eve championship game

Manchester sophomore football player Brandon Smith was found dead Sunday, a day ahead of his team’s state championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Meriwether Schools confirmed in a letter to families, according to multiple TV stations.

“We are heartbroken to hear the news of the tragic and untimely death of one of our student-athletes, Brandon Smith,’’ stated the letter released jointly by Meriwether schools superintendent Robert Griffin and Manchester principal Suze Neal. “Manchester High School’s celebration of playing for the Georgia 1-A State Football Championship has unfortunately turned into something none of us could have fathomed.”

The letter described Smith, a lineman, as “a loyal teammate and friend who excelled on and off the field. He will be deeply missed.”

Smith has been reported missing Saturday. The cause of death has not been confirmed or reported.

According to WRBL-TV in Columbus, the GBI, Manchester Police and the Meriwether County coroner were investigating a scene at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, which is downtown, a half mile from the high school.

Manchester’s football team, in its first state championship game since 1997, is scheduled to play Bowdon Monday at 7 in the Class A Division II final.

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