First appearing in the Journal of Athletic Training in 2001, Frederick O. Mueller found that;
A football-related fatality has occurred every year from 1945 through 1999, except for 1990. Head-related deaths accounted for 69% of football fatalities, cervical spinal injuries for 16.3%, and other injuries for 14.7%. High school football produced the greatest number of football head-related deaths. From 1984 through 1999, 69 football head-related injuries resulted in permanent disability. Sixty-three of the injuries were associated with high school football and 6 with college football. Although football has received the most attention, other sports have also been associated with head-related deaths and permanent disability injuries. From 1982 through 1999, 20 deaths and 19 permanent disability injuries occurred in a variety of sports. Track and field, baseball, and cheerleading had the highest incidence of these catastrophic injuries. Three deaths and 3 injuries resulting in permanent disability have occurred in female participants.
J Athl Train. 2001 Jul–Sep; 36(3): 312–315. (link is to pub med)
I would be interested to see this study reproduced in 2010 or 2011. There have been some deaths recently associated and blamed on high school football the most recent was Andrew “Drew” Fremont Swank, of Spokane, Washington.