DELRAY BEACH —
Through tears and wearing her son’s jersey, Marie Derac took the field at Atlantic High School Tuesday night.
About three weeks after her son, Atlantic defensive back Marc’Allan Derac, died due to injuries he suffered in an April dirt-bike accident, his team honored him during its spring football game against Miami Northwestern on Tuesday.
“He is so truly missed,” Atlantic principal Tara Dellegrotti-Ocampo said.
The Eagles honored Derac before the game and during halftime. He was 17 years old.
At the pregame captains’ meeting, Atlantic’s No. 2, Kamareon Williams, and No. 3, Jalen Wring II, carried Derac’s No. 23 jersey out to midfield.
On the first play of the game, Derac’s mother took the field at safety, her son’s position. Atlantic coach T.J. Jackson caught a pass from a Northwestern player and handed it to Marie to a round of applause.
At halftime, Atlantic graduating senior Jason Mercier, a close friend of Derac’s, along with many other football players from the school’s graduating class presented Marie with Marc’s state runner-up ring.
“It’ll show that she has people having her back, and that we weren’t just teammates or friends,” Atlantic senior Corey Cola said. “We’re a family.”
Dellegrotti-Ocampo said the team will retire Derac’s number when the 2018 season begins in the fall when he would have been a senior.
“That’s the right thing to do for Marc,” she said.
Derac was a star on the football field, intercepting nine passes as a junior and making the Post’s All-Area first team. He was the No. 9 player on the Post’s Big Board.
But what his friends and principal emphasized Tuesday was how Derac was off the field — kind, funny and joyous.
“We’re going to play for Marc,” Dellegrotti-Ocampo said. “We’re going to do our best for him and have a great season, into the upcoming year for 2019, for Marc. And that’s what I told my students when we did an honoring for him.
“My class, the 2019 (class) — we’re going to put our best out there, not just on the football field, but in the classroom, because that’s what Marc would do.”