MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A community in northern Minnesota is mourning after a high school student died unexpectedly during a football game.

A memorial is growing for Jackson Pfister, the 15-year-old sophomore from Esko High School who collapsed on the field during Friday night’s varsity football game. He died a short time later at Riverwood Healthcare Center.

According to a preliminary report from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office, Jackson death was natural due to congenital heart disease.

WCCO spoke with Jackson’s father, Matt Pfister, Sunday night. He said his son has had three heart surgeries in his life. But, annual check ups showed he was safe to participate in sports.

“Everyone has, can learn something from how he lived his short life,” he said. “We could’ve lost him at 8 years old and God gave us another almost 8 years and we’re all blessed to have had those extra 8 years.”

Students and staff at Esko High School had counselors available to them Sunday, and will again Monday.

“The average person would say that he had a bad heart,” Matt Pfister said. “But he had a good heart. He had a big heart.”

Pfister’s visitation will be Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Cloquet. A memorial mass will be at 4 p.m. followed by a luncheon in the church social hall. The church is located at 102 Fourth Street.

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