(Reuters) - A high school football player died after he suffered a head injury during a varsity game in central New York late on Friday, the schools said.

A lineman from the visiting Phoenix Central School District suffered a head injury in a collision in the third quarter of a game with Homer Central High School, south of Syracuse. He was taken to the hospital and later died.

The player was not identified pending notification of relatives.

"This is a devastating loss for our community," said Phoenix Central School District Superintendent Judy Belfield in a message on the high school's website.

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family, players, and coaches."

A statement on the Homer Central School District's website said: "The Homer School Community is deeply saddened."

The death comes at a time of growing national debate over how to handle the dangers of head injuries in football.

Repeated collisions have been linked to trauma and death, and lawmakers have backed efforts aimed at minimizing injuries.

For example, New York state lawmakers this summer passed a bill requiring coaches to bench players who suffer a concussion for at least 24 hours until the symptoms abate.

(Reporting by Eric Johnson in Chicago; Editing by Ian Simpson)

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