Former Husky football player Johnie Kirton dies at 26

May 29, 2012, 11:39 AM | Updated: 11:42 am

By 710Sports.com staff

Johnie Kirton, who starred at Jackson High School in Everett and played for Washington under Tyrone Willingham before moving on to the Arena Football League, died Monday. He was 26.

The San Jose SaberCats, the AFL team Kirton was playing for, announced that Kirton had died but did not release a cause of death.

According to the Mercury News, Santa Clara police Capt. Phil Cooke said Kirton was found dead in a Santa Clara hotel room Monday night and that “there was no reason at this point to suspect any crimes had been committed in connection with the death.”

According to the Mercury News, Kirton, a fullback, had been traded to San Jose from the Arizona Rattlers three weeks ago and had scored five touchdowns in his two games with the SaberCats, including the game-winner in overtime on Saturday.

“He was such a great kid, and in the short time he was in San Jose he was such a value member of our organization’s family,” SaberCats co-owner and coach Darren Arbet in a statement, according to the Mercury News. “Johnie was a great team guy and hard-nosed player, and he will be sorely missed.”

Kirton, a running back and defensive end at Jackson, was Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year and the Associated Press Class 4A player of the year as a senior in 2003. He played at Washington from 2004-08, beginning his career at fullback before moving to tight end and then to the defensive line.

According to the Mercury News, the SaberCats plan to honor Kirton by wearing helmet stickers with “37,” his number at Washington and with San Jose, during their game on Saturday.

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