Red Raiders quarterback helps lead team to championship win after tragedy
Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - One week ago, Byron-Bergen senior AJ Maye lost his 25-year-old sister, Kristina, and her longtime boyfriend, in a car accident. Five days later, thanks to the help of his teammates, Maye was not only able to play his team's championship game, but also help lead the team to a thrilling victory.
Maye is the quarterback for the Cal-Mum/Byron Bergen Red Raiders. They took on East Rochester/Gananda in Alfred last Saturday for the Class 'C' Title, and the Red Raiders won in spectacular fashion.
"We just played as hard as we could for as long as we could," said Maye.
It was the biggest game of Maye's life, and it came at the end of what was likely his worst week personally. But Maye credits his teammates for helping him on and off the field.
"They were supportive, they got my back," said Maye. "They said, 'This one's for you and your family.'"
"I just kind of thought she was in a better place, try to keep it positive," said Maye.
Head coach Billy Donegan says the two teams went back and forth on the scoreboard all game. But in the end, it was Maye and the Red Raiders with the 27-26 victory.
Like Maye, Donegan says the other team members have come up big for Maye as he and his family deal with the tragedy.
"We had to pull together, and I can't say enough about his teammates and how supportive they were," said Donegan. "That was the real plus for all of this. It was inspirational to see those guys really pull together for AJ."
For the team, it was an unforgettable win. But for the quarterback, it was more than just a championship.
"I played it for my sister. It was intense, it brought me down to one knee. I started crying," Maye said after a securing the one-point win. "I know my dad was in tears. My mom, everyone was in tears. They were happy and sad all at the same time."
The Red Raiders will now play Cleveland Hill of Buffalo for the New York State Western Regional Championship. The game will be played in Brockport.