In a span of a week, the North Haven football community has dealt with both triumph and tragedy.
The Indians recorded one of the program’s biggest victories after it knocked off then No. 2 Xavier, 42-28, this past Friday. But then word spread early Thursday morning that Matthew Jacques, a 6 year old who attended Montowese School, had passed away.
Matthew was born with a complex congenital heart defect. He received a new heart last month but died from complications from the transplant.
Paul C. Jacques, Matthew’s grandfather, posted this message on Facebook:
“This morning (Thursday) at about 3AM I received the sad news that my grand-son MATTHEW JACQUES passed on. He was a brave young boy who at 6years old taught the world to have courage, strength love and faith. You made this world a better place Matty…for me,our family and the rest of the people you touched! I know you are in a better place ……….love you always, Poppy!”
Matthew inspired the North Haven community. Proceeds from North Haven’s annual Spring Brawl game went to the Jacques’ family. The game raised $9,000, and this past week Xavier presented North Haven with a check for $1,800 as a donation to the Matthew Jacques Foundation.
North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said he leaned about Matthew’s passing this morning.
“We’re dealing with it now,” Sagnella said. “We had a team meeting this morning and I told them that we’re a family, that we’re a tight-knit group of men and that we need each other to lean now. Some kids are struggling with it right now. I told them to keep the Jacques family in their thoughts and prayers, and that we’re not equipped to know why, but know that Matthew is in a better place.”
Sagnella said the team will meet with a social worker later Thursday. North Haven’s game at East Haven on Friday is on as scheduled.
“Matt would want us to play,” Sagnella said. “He loved football, and he would want us to play and the family would want us to play.”
Services have yet to be finalized, but Sagnella said the team will attend. Since the season started, each player has wore a “MJ” emblem on their helmets and the coaches have sported a “MJ” button on their clothing. Posters have been set up in the school cafeteria where students can write messages on.
Below is a video of Matthew scoring a touchdown during the Spring Brawl game.