High school senior battling brain tumors cheers team at state championship

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Bagdad High School was battling it out on the field Saturday night with Mogollon in a bid to win back-to-back state championships.

The Sultans thought they would have to do it without one of their star seniors whose season was cut short by two brain tumors.

Saturday night they lost 8-14, but that didn't bring down their spirits because the highlight of the night was seeing No. 5, Brenden Garza, at the game.

He's been battling health issues for the past two months.

Garza's teammates had no idea he'd make it to the state championship game.

He ended up in the hospital after playing only a few games this season.

"My head was getting dizzy, and I went and got checked out, and they said I had a brain tumor, and eventually they said I have two brain tumors and tumors in my lungs," Garza said.

His teammates couldn't contain their excitement when they saw him.

"We're super excited that he gets to be here because he's a huge part of what we do," his coach said.

The coaches made him an example during their pep talk.

"Play it like he would -- all out, all the time. You got your brother here. Let’s go play for him."

Before leaving the locker room, they said a prayer, and as each teammate passed Garza, they hugged him but were careful not to hurt him.

The moment right before they walked onto the field, Garza made sure to put on the jersey he hasn't worn in months.

"His brothers wanted him here, and no one thought it was going to happen," said Dalton Mills, head coach for Bagdad High. "He texted me and said, ‘Hey coach do you have my jersey?’ That was the best news of the day.”

"I've been dying to play with these guys, but I'm not able to," Garza said.

Garza said it meant the world to him to at least be at the game rather than stuck in a hospital bed.

"He was pushing so hard to be out here. It was the only thing he could think about when he was awake," said his mother, Christal.

“We figured this wasn't going to happen, and we'd be watching this game on the computer like we did last week," his dad said.

Although his doctors decided to give him a little break, he'll have to go back early next week.

"They’ve done surgery right here. They just did a little biopsy for that one, and then I have to go back pretty soon," Garza said.

Garza will be making the drive to Phoenix from Bagdad with his parents for outpatient treatment until doctors can get to the bottom of what exactly he has.

They are still waiting for the biopsy results.