Chandler football mourns loss of former player K.J. Taylor - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler football mourns loss of former player K.J. Taylor

April 29th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler football mourns loss of former player K.J. Taylor
Sports and Recreation

By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

The Chandler High School football team is mourning the loss of Kelvin “K.J.” Taylor, who spent the 2020 season with the Wolves after transferring from West Virginia.

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Taylor was shot and killed Wednesday, April 7 in Charleston, West Virginia, where he returned after the Arizona football season to finish his senior year at Capital High School. Officials said he was transported to a local hospital shortly after the shooting but succumbed to his injuries. An investigation is underway.

Taylor was 18 years old.

“I thought, ‘how is that possible?’” said Chandler head coach Rick Garretson. “You never think anybody, a young person, is going to have that type of tragedy in their life. He was just a kid looking to enjoy his senior year.

“It’s just a shock. Any time you lose a young person let alone someone you know, it’s shocking and its tragic.”

Taylor starred for Capital on the basketball court and at wide receiver and return specialist on the football team his first three years of high school, as he helped lead the Cougars to the playoffs every season. He was due for another breakout senior season on the field before fall sports were canceled in West Virginia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seeking an opportunity, Taylor transferred to Chandler where he immediately became one of the Wolves’ return specialists on punts and kickoffs. He helped contribute to Chandler’s Open Division championship run, the second in as many years and fifth straight state title overall.

Taylor’s accolades on the field helped him earn a scholarship offer to Concord University in his home state and a preferred walk-on offer to the West Virginia University.

Chandler assistant head coach Eric Richardson and assistant coach Scott Russell broke the news of Taylor’s passing to players. An outpour of support for the Chandler football program and for Taylor’s family extended from Arizona to West Virginia, where members of his hometown gathered to remember him. Teachers at both Chandler and Capital high schools shared pictures of themselves wearing blue in honor of Taylor after his death.

While only with the program for a short period of time, Taylor was immediately welcomed and loved by everyone involved.

“He was really well-embraced by his fellow teammates coming from another state, one that is really far away,” Garretson said. “Any time something like this happens with young people, you just wonder how this could happen. It’s like it’s kind of not real.”