“Folks knew him in large part because of the integral role he played on our football team, especially on the defense last year,” Blankenship said. “He had a smile that lit up a room, and he was so connected to the students, staff and administration. I imagine it would be hard to find anyone in the Fairfield community that didn’t know him or at least know his name.”
Less than two weeks after receiving his high school diploma, Hill was shot and killed Wednesday night during an altercation at Liberty Park on Yankee Road in Liberty Twp.
Hill was preparing to leave for college next month, as he had signed to play football at Independence Community College in Kansas with hopes of eventually moving on to a Division I college.
“You are never prepared for that kind of call,” Fairfield football coach Jason Krause said Thursday. “I think the big thing for us at Fairfield is we pride ourselves as being a tight-knit family, and when something like this happens you feel like you’ve lost one of your own.
“We had a workout scheduled, so we had a meeting this morning and talked about remembering him and being there for his family and each other. He was a tremendous young man, a big part of what we’ve done the last two years. It’s tragic to lose a young man like that in something so silly.”
Hill, a two-year varsity letterwinner who had been involved in the program since middle school, recorded 45 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries last fall, helping the Indians to one of their greatest seasons in program history. Fairfield started 9-0 for the first time and earned its first playoff win since 2000 before finishing 10-2. Hill had a season-high seven tackles in the regular-season finale loss against Colerain.
Krause said Hill had Division I college offers but he decided to go the junior college route to develop himself more and better prepare for the D-I level. Krause had just spoken to him about his goals last week, and Hill was confident he “was going to make that dream come true.”
“He loved to work out; he was a big weight-room guy,” Krause said. “He loved hanging with his teammates and buddies. He was a very social guy with that group and always had a great smile on his face. He comes from a tremendous family. He had a twin brother (Da’Shon) who didn’t play football. I can’t imagine what they are going through, but I told them this family is here for them too.”
Several of the graduated seniors returned to the school Thursday morning to join the football team meeting, Krause said. The students also led a social-distanced vigil in the stadium Thursday night, according to Blankenship.
“Shocked to say the least,” Blankenship said of hearing the news of Hill’s death. “Jason found out early, so it’s really how I woke up Wednesday. … The initial reaction is you can’t believe something like that could happen to Antaun, and then, you just feel heartbreak for his family that saw him in a cap and gown just a couple weeks ago. It’s horrible.”