FAIRFIELD, Ohio — Antaun Hill Jr. seemed to never miss a football practice or workout.
The recent Fairfield High School graduate had a radiant smile. He was a model student, a brother, a son and a good teammate and friend.
His future included a college football career.
"A great member of our school community," Fairfield football coach Jason Krause said Thursday afternoon. "Just a happy, fun-loving, hard-working football player."
Hill just graduated two weeks ago in a ceremony at the stadium where he played safety for the Indians this past fall.
"It made me smile seeing him," Fairfield athletic director Aaron Blankenship said. "Just a good kid."
Hill, 18, was preparing this summer to attend Independence Community College in Kansas.
"He decided he wanted to take a year or two to develop and try to play Division I football," Krause said. "He was going to go and make that dream happen."
The Butler County Sheriff's Office said Hill was shot and killed at about 10 p.m. Wednesday at Liberty Park on Yankee Road in Liberty Township.
The sheriff's office said 18-year-old Romel Velasquez shot and killed Hill and injured Zyquon Moody, 18, and Zyshaun Johnson, 19, during an altercation. Velasquez is charged with murder and felonious assault.
"We are saddened by the untimely death of Antaun Hill Jr., a recent graduate of Fairfield High School," Fairfield City Schools said in a statement.
"He was a great young man and a model student with an infectious smile. As a leader on the football team, he was scheduled to leave in a few weeks to continue playing the sport he loved at the collegiate level. He will be sorely missed by his friends, teachers, administrators, classmates and teammates. We will keep his family in our prayers during this extremely difficult time."
Krause fought back tears Thursday afternoon. He spoke with the team earlier in the day before a team workout.
The team held a moment of silence and a prayer for Hill.
Krause reminded the players that the Fairfield football program is always an extended family. That duty also includes being supportive of Hill's parents and siblings.
"'We lost a brother last night and you need to be there for his family,'" Krause told the team.
Up to a dozen of the 2020 football players stood in the stadium parking lot by mid-afternoon Thursday trying to comprehend a new reality without their teammate.
Krause spoke with Hill last week about the graduate's future. Hill discussed his plans to get ready to leave for the junior college program in Kansas.
"I think the big thing is as a member of our family here as far as our football family – just the love he had for the game, the love he had for his teammates," Krause said. "It was such a close, tight-knit bunch that senior group. Just to watch him grow as a young man from middle school to a senior."
Hill had 45 tackles (31 solo), one sack and two fumble recoveries for the Indians in 2019, according to the Greater Miami Conference website. He had a season-high seven tackles in the regular-season finale against visiting Colerain.
Fairfield (10-2 in 2019) captured their first playoff win since the 2000 season and the team went 9-0 for the first time in program history.