Georgia high school football player found dead day before championship game

A 17-year-old football player in Georgia was found dead Sunday, a day before he was supposed to represent his high school in the state championship game, authorities said.

“We are heartbroken to hear the news of the tragic and untimely death of one of our student-athletes, Brandon Smith,” the Meriwether County School System said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was contacted Sunday to assist with the crime scene in the town of Manchester.

The GBI, which is now handling the investigation, could not be reached for comment.

As a Manchester Blue Devil, Smith was supposed to play against Bowdon High School in the Georgia 1A state football championship.

The game, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, will still be taking place, a spokesperson for the high school said.

Manchester High School is about 70 miles southwest of Atlanta.

Smith’s football coach put up a missing persons post for him on Saturday, but the post was deleted on Sunday morning, NBC affiliate WXIA of Atlanta reported.

Authorities did not release a cause of death. The Meriwether County coroner could not be reached for comment.

“Brandon was a loyal teammate and friend who excelled on and off the field. He will be deeply missed,” the Meriwether County School System said.

Manchester High School said it would have mental health support available for students starting Monday morning.