According to published reports in the L.A. Times and from posters on the StudentSports.com message board, Diaz had a well-known heart condition that surfaced earlier this year. He collapsed after warming up on a cool day in Southern California.
Diaz was a two-year starter for the Pilots, who last year won the CIF L.A. City Section championship. He was listed as an offensive lineman and weighed over 300 pounds with a height of 6-foot-3. He did not play in any of Banning's non-league games earlier this season and the Daily Breeze reported on Oct. 4 that he would likely "miss the rest of this season with a heart condition."
Banning coach Ed Lalau went to the hospital with Diaz in the ambulance. He later told his players at a team meeting of Diaz's death. Banning players will dedicate the rest of their season in Diaz's memory. The team opens the playoffs Thursday against Dorsey.
Although Diaz's death does not appear to be related to an on-field injury, his is the second involving a California football player this year. In September, Matt Colby, 17, a defensive end at Costa Mesa, died one day after suffering an apparent brain injury the night before during a game against Ocean View of Huntington Beach.
There were no football related deaths in the state last year, but in 1999 Fountain Valley's Scott Lang, like Diaz a big offensive lineman, died from a heart attack during a practice.
A popular poster on the StudentSports.com message board who goes by the name Pilot Pride wrote Monday night:
"This was not a football related tragedy. it just so happened that he played football. Jonathan was one of those good kids. He worked hard, never complained, and did what he loved and that's to play Banning football. At the beginning of the season, he was told to lose weight. He lost it because he wanted to play. He was a special guy. Jonathan had to sit out games this year because of his condition, but when we were about to play San Pedro this year, his parents were coming. It was going to be the first time they ever saw him play football. He started that game and helped Banning defeat San Pedro with his family watching. Jonathan Diaz will be missed."