Friday night lights burn bright for legendary high school football coach

A sign of how much the town of Somerset, Wisconsin, cherished Bruce Larson, is the line of hundreds of people that snaked through the high school on Friday afternoon waiting to pay their respects to his family and friends.

"I've never seen a guy so loved by kids, staff and a community," Somerset Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bezek told FOX 9. "There's a lot of tears going on in there – same with me all week."

We first introduced you to the beloved teacher and football coach four years ago, when he faced off against his son Reggie who coaches the rival team in New Richmond.

"You do the best you can and that's what it is. I would expect them to do the same thing," the elder Larson told us at the time. 

The man who led the Somerset Spartans to three state championships and was named National Coach of the Year died unexpectedly at his home on Sunday at the age of 58.

"I wouldn't be who I am without Bruce. He was awesome. He was special," said former player Gailen Elmore.

A line of hundreds of community members - from family to friends to ex-players - snaked through the halls of Somerset High School on Friday to remember coach Bruce Larson. 

As a tribute to him, Larson's family not only hosted a public celebration of his life in the gymnasium at Somerset Senior High on Friday night, high schools across Wisconsin and Minnesota lit up their football fields from 7 to 9 p.m., typically game time, and posted pictures on twitter using #LIGHTUPFORLARS to spread awareness.

"For those guys to be able to do that for him shows what kind of a person he was," said son Rocky, who also went into coaching. 

"It's an emotional thing because Friday night lights one last time is the only way you could imagine him going out," said Elmore.

And what better way to honor a life well lived.

"We'll look back in 20 years from now and smile that we got to celebrate dad the way he deserved," said Rocky.

Larson's funeral will be held on Saturday.