Defensive star for Burke County dies

A key player on the 2011 state champion Burke County football team died early Saturday morning in a single-car accident.

Denzell Warthen, an 18-year-old senior, was ejected from his vehicle in the accident near Midville at about 2:30 a.m., Burke County Coroner Lee Webster said.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma. No alcohol was involved.

Webster also said the car went straight as the road curved. A passenger was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

“That was a tough blow for us,” Bears coach Eric Parker said. “Denzell was one of the more popular football players among the student body. He was a great player but he was kind of the team clown, the prankster. Everybody is just devastated: teammates, classmates and coaches.”

Warthen was a key piece of Burke County’s defense, which helped the Bears beat Peach County, 28-14, in the Class AAA state title game.He was an honorable mention pick on The Augusta Chronicle’s Georgia All-Area team and an all-region selection this past season.

“We’re still in a state of disbelief,” Parker said.

A vigil for Warthen will be held tonight at 8 at the school’s football field.

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