We’re all here tonight to close a chapter in the lives of many of the people in this town. 4 years ago, northwest Florida, this high school, these teammates, and myself lost a true treasure. A genuine soul. Someone who wasn’t afraid to tell it how it was. And let people know the truth, no matter how brutal it might be. And in this day in age of personal facades and putting on face, that is a recognizably rare trait. That person was my first and best friend, Taylor Haugen. He hated his middle name so don’t worry about it. Taylor was first of all a Christian, second a son, third a friend and finally a Niceville Eagle.
We will all stand here and tell you that Taylor wasn’t the strongest or fastest, or even the most talented our sophomore year, but none of us could stand here and say he didn’t have the most heart. He spent countless extra hours outside of practice running routes with Steve Strano, our then QB, just to be the best HE could be. The last memory many of his teammates have of the true Taylor, was pre-game that night. He managed to back pedal over a trash canwhile trying to catch a football during feild goal warmups and ate a mouthful of cement. But he popped right back up, smiled his toothy smile and laughed, just like always. Taylor loved football, but he had perspective, letting it only come after faith, family, and friends. He was a kid, only 15, but he knew the ways of the world more than anyone his age should. Many say he left this world too early, but his father gave me a different perspective. One that stuck with me, even now. Taylor was a kid at heart but at the same time an old soul, he wasnt supposed to grow up, in some grand scheme of things this is the way things were supposed to be. And time has shown me nothing could be more true. Two millennia ago Marcus Arelius said that “we will live on in the memories of our loved ones”. And by the looks of tonight I couldn’t say that’s anything less than the absolute truth. The emense good that has come out of this tragedy is more than proof positive. Myself, my teammates, classmates, and this community all have this common thread no matter how far life takes us from this small town. So let’s retire hisnumber, 80, tonight in solace and remember the good times, and be glad we were blessed enough to have Taylor affect our lives.