It's back to work for the Bartlett High School Golden Bears, as they take the field for the start of fall football practice. This practice, though, is anything but normal -- one player is missing.

"It's pretty sad honestly, I usually see him at practice," said Running Back Tsuginori Fudge, as he recalled his friend and teammate, Mlooglug Chervang.

The 16-year-old died July 20, at Seattle Children's Hospital. It happened weeks after he nearly drowned at Goose Lake. Doctors at Providence Hospital sent him to Seattle for treatment.

It's a difficult time for players and coaches.

"I'm still in shock, I still have this feeling he's coming back, okay? It seems irrational," said Bartlett co-head coach John Jessen. "I felt empty inside, really, knowing that he was gone," added Fudge, while Offensive Lineman Aaron Regevik recalled Chervang as "always happy, he was always smiling, you never went a day with him being down, being upset."

The Golden Bears say football has offered the distraction they need, as they cope with Chervang's death. The running back had prepared for his junior season with the team. Teammates made it clear, this season is about more than just a third straight Cook Inlet Conference title.

"One person can make a difference, I feel like, in my opinion, and seeing one of our players is gone, and dedicating this season for him," said Fudge, while Jessen is having a bit more trouble dealing with the loss.

"Sometimes I think about it more than others, when I do, I'm sad, but mostly I'm reflecting by myself, and when I'm out here, we're doing what we're supposed to do," said Jessen, as the Golden Bears get ready for another season.

But this time, they do so without one of their own.