The team and coaches gave Ms. Augustenborg a football, a helmet, shirts and sweatshirts for Alex. They stenciled his name onto the fence ringing the football field. During one home game, when they scored or made a great play, they raised their hands in a point above their heads, to make an A.

“The whole community surrounded him and came forward,” said George Hudspeth, president of the school’s athletic booster group. “They were all so excited. It did show a side of the high school, that they’re willing to rally and support anything.”

Some parents and coaches were troubled by it all. Nobody had ever met Alex or his parents, or talked to them on the phone. Ms. Augustenborg was the sole source of information about him. She promised that the boy would attend a practice or game, but at the last minute, a medical problem would intervene.

“I should’ve looked into it deeper,” Mr. Ramunno said.