SCRANTON -- A retired teacher who kept statistics at Scranton Prep football games has died from injuries he suffered 10 days ago when a high school football player collided with him on the sidelines.
This has been an unimaginable loss for Scranton Prep, not just because of the circumstances, but because of the man they're mourning.
Tony Cantafio was best known as "Taps" at the private high school in Scranton.
The best nicknames don't have an origin, at least not one that anyone can remember. We couldn't find anyone who knew why Tony Cantafio was called "Taps." He just was.
"He was Prep. He never left," said Prep baseball coach Mark Seitzinger. "They said he retired, but I don't think he ever left. He was always there. He was big with sports. He loved Prep sports. He loved Prep athletics. He loved basketball, baseball, football, you name it, he was there for all those things."
"Taps" retired from coaching and teaching math at Scranton Prep two years ago. Because of his love of numbers, he stayed on as a statistician for Prep's athletic teams and that's what he was doing on the sideline of Prep's game against Valley View earlier this month.
A player collided with "Taps," and he suffered a traumatic brain injury. He remained in the hospital until his death on Monday.
"Today's been a difficult day. It will be difficult as the days move forward, but we're a faith community," said Scranton Prep Principal Matt Bernard. "Today we came together to pray for 'Taps' and his family and for one another."
The circumstances are difficult for anyone to understand, but especially so for those in the Prep community "Taps" cared most for -- its students.
"You have to be there for the players, for the students, my own daughters, got to be there for them. It's hard, but it's no different than if you lost a family member. He was a family member to all of us," said Bernard. "When I first encountered him, I can tell you I encountered a man who had a tremendous sense of humor and was adored by Scranton Prep perhaps as much as he adored Scranton Prep."
The principal at Scranton Prep says counselors will be on hand for students this week. Funeral arrangements for Tony Cantafio have not yet been set.