Maryvale High quarterback, friend killed in weekend car crash

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Sixteen-year-old Alex Brizuela's football jersey number was number one, and his friends say it suited him. This year he was called up to be Maryvale High School's Varsity quarterback, and his team say he'd grown to be a leader in the sport he loved.

"Football camp, training camp, passing's ridiculous. So many memories," said Junior Raymond Lizarraga. He is still in shock that those memories are all he'll have of his friend and teammate.

"It's tragic, you know. I'm still kind of in shock knowing that happened," he said.

Glendale Police say Sunday morning, Brizuela was driving down 67th Ave. near Bethany Home Rd. with 23-year-old Claudia Ontiveros. They were both killed when somehow Brizuela lost control of the car and it slammed into a power pole.

Ontiveros worked at a beauty supply store and the pair met through mutual friends.

The crash was violent, but Monday afternoon, friends have turned the scene into a makeshift memorial.

Back at school, the district made counselors available to anyone who needed to talk.

"We had about 60 football players in our lecture hall this morning, already grieving," said Phoenix Union School District Spokesman Craig Pletenik.

Staff are doing their best to explain why a 16-year-old with so much ahead of him can be taken too soon. While that sets in, Brizuela's teammates are working on their final gift for their friend. It's a football, with messages from those who say they'll never forget him.

"We're getting it signed by everybody, and it's going to go with him," said Lizarraga.

The football team is planning a car wash to raise money for the Brizuela family on Tuesday afternoon, starting at 3 p.m. at Maryvale High School.

Glendale Police continue to investigate what caused the crash, and if alcohol or speed were factors.