The game between the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs and the Sherwood Saints was played before a sea of purple on Thursday night.
In the stands and on the field, students past and present, as well as residents from the nearby community, all wore purple in one form or another to pay tribute to Devan Selvey.
Selvey, 14, was fatally stabbed outside his Hamilton High School on Monday.
Purple was his favourite colour.
Many slipped on a tribute t-shirt with the moniker “Churchill Strong’ meant to send a message to would-be bullies, after Hamilton police said they believed bullying play a part in Selvey’s death.
The game was meant to be cancelled in light of the teen’s death, but Bulldogs head coach Kevin Harrison said he and his team argued against it.
“When I got out here on Tuesday and my team told me they wanted to carry through, I broke up,” said Harrison, “I started to tear up.”
“We got to honour him, we got to dedicate the game, not even just the game, the whole community, which came together,” said Andrae Bailey, part of the Bulldogs coaching staff.
The community included a number of Hamilton Tiger-Cats players who came out to show their resolve against bullying.
“You know this cause dug deep in a lot of us, and we’re here to show our support,” said Lirim Hajrullahu, placekicker for the Ti-Cats.
Thursday’s game followed an emotional vigil Wednesday night outside Sir Winston Churchill which drew hundreds.
Many from the nearby community joined family and friends holding candles and signs that read “you will be missed Devan” and “bullying stops here.”
Selvey died Monday after he was stabbed behind the school, in front of his mother.
Police say emergency crews were called to the Main Street East school just before 1:20 p.m., forcing nearby schools and a daycare centre into a brief hold-and-secure.
Selvey, who had been injured in what police called a “serious assault,” was rushed to Hamilton General Hospital where he later died.
Detectives said they recovered a knife during a ground search Tuesday outside the school.
Two teens, – aged 18 and 14 – were arrested near the school and are facing first-degree murder charges.
Ahead of the Bulldogs-Saints game, Ontario’s education minister Stephen Lecce revealed he will ask the province for “a rigorous investigation” into the case and explore the potential implement of “new intervention policies and additional resources” moving forward.
“My expectation is that when a principal or vice-principal or administrator is cognizant of a child feeling isolated or harmed or victimized by peers or by an adult that there is action taken.”
Funeral arrangements have been made for Devon Selvey with visitations for the teen on Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Donald V. Brown Funeral Home in Stoney Creek.
Selvey’s funeral will be held at Stoney Creek United Church at 1 p.m. on Saturday and will be open to the public.
With files from Kamil Karamali and Rick Zamperin