The thrilling day ended tragically.
Pope, 18, died in a car accident in Farmington on Thursday evening.
His passenger, Sheena Lemons, 19, was critically injured in the accident and remains in critical condition at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, a hospital spokesman said.
Pope was an Aztec High School student and a star football player who was busy preparing for his senior season, said Brett Alexander, an assistant coach.
Pope turned his 2003 Dodge Intrepid left onto Piñon Hills Boulevard from Butler Avenue shortly before 6 p.m. A large, commercial truck hauling tools for a construction company was driving east and struck Pope's car on the driver's side door, said Farmington police Sgt. Dave Monfils.
The speed limit near the intersection is 50 miles per hour. The vehicle was badly crushed and the Farmington Fire Department used the Jaws of Life to get Pope and Lemons out of the vehicle.
Both teenagers were transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center where Pope was pronounced dead.
Lemons was transported Thursday night to Albuquerque where she is being treated for head trauma, Monfils said.
Lemons graduated from Farmington High School in May where she was active in the choir, said Amanda Hunter, Lemons' cousin who lives in Utah. She is taking
Lemons broke many bones in her face and head, and she is in a coma, Hunter said. She also has broken ribs, a broken pelvis and other significant injuries, including broken bones throughout her body, Hunter said.
Her parents and three older siblings are at the hospital, Hunter said.
"We believe in the power of prayer and we are asking people to pass on the prayers," Hunter said.
Pope was a star athlete in Aztec and stood up for his classmates.
He made the varsity team as a freshman and coaches expected him to be a leader on the team this year. The football season officially starts Monday.
"Football was his love. You put a ball in his hands and he made plays," Alexander said. "He used football to motivate him in life and school."
Earlier this summer, Pope was riding a bicycle in Berg Park when he saw a young child being swept downstream and terrified parents running to the water, said Byron Pope, Andrew's father.
Pope jumped into the Animas River and carried the child back to
"They asked for his name and he said Andrew' and got back on his bike and road away ... He wasn't the type that needed attention," Byron said. "If something needed to be done he did it. If somebody needed help he helped them."
Pope wouldn't tolerate bullies at his high school. He was known for sticking up for weaker kids, Byron said.
In elementary school Pope was scrawny and he was bullied for having a speech disorder, which is why he stuck up for students who were being picked on when he was in high school, Byron said.
He was competitive in everything, said Tina Humphrey, Pope's mother.
On the football field his competitive nature was apparent. He had 224 receiving yards in a game against Durango in 2009, which remains a school record. Coaches said he had the talent to play football at the next level.
Off the field, he would compete against family members to see who could go to the gym and eat healthier for a week.
"If we were sitting here pealing potatoes he wanted to be the first one to finish," Humphrey said.
Pope also is survived by a 16-year-old sister. His funeral arrangements are pending.
Alexander said the Aztec community was saddened and in disbelief because of the accident.
"We all hoped when we woke up this morning that it was a horrible nightmare," he said.
Warman Hall, the Aztec principal, said news of Pope's death spread quickly among the Aztec student body Thursday night.
High school staff met with Pope's friends on Thursday and allowed students gathered near the football field in Aztec to remember Pope at midnight.
The high school has counselors and a social worker on staff. Those employees will be at football practice Monday and will be able to meet with students when school starts Aug. 13 and 14.
Funds for Pope and Lemons have been created at Wells Fargo. To make a donation to either person, people can go to any branch in the country, Hunter said. People can also contact Hunter at 435-704-1001.