Peoria football community comes together to honor fallen player Zach Hunzinger

It's nearly two months since Liberty High School football player Zach Hunzinger died of cancer and the community came together on Friday to remember him.
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 9:20 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — High school football got underway for many of the bigger schools in Arizona Friday evening. And perhaps no scene as memorable as the one at Liberty High School in Peoria, where before the Lions hosted rival Sunrise Mountain, they celebrated one of their own gone far too soon. Zach Hunzinger played football for the Lions and graduated in 2019. He lost his four-year battle with bone cancer in July. But in the days since his passing, his presence has still been felt throughout the Liberty Lion community. “I can’t put into words the community of support that has been wrapped around my son for this entire adventure,” Zach’s dad Chuck Hunzinger said.

Zach wanted nothing more than to follow in Chuck’s footsteps and become a police officer. It’s why he chose the number 50 (or 5-0). He wanted to help others, to be a leader. Lions coach Colin Thomas says it didn’t take long to realize that Zach was special on and off the field. “Zach influenced so many people, not just Liberty,” Thomas said. “He needs to be honored by the whole community. His story is amazing. And we obviously can all learn and grow from it.”

Before kickoff, hundreds wore the number 50, or shirts that said “You vs. You” on the front and “Too Stubborn To Quit” on the back. “It doesn’t matter what your adversities are in life. It doesn’t matter if you have cancer, it doesn’t matter where you come from,” Chuck said. “It’s on you, and you alone to be bigger and better than you were yesterday.”

At midfield, even Sunrise Mountain showed love for Hunzinger as Chuck did the coin toss surrounded by family, friends, and the Phoenix Police Department. “It’s great,” Zach’s mom Megan said. “I’m so thankful for everybody. Everybody that’s come together to honor Zach. Thank you.”

As for Zach? Well he might not physically be on the sidelines. But make no mistake, he’s taking it all in. “He’s up their laughing,” Megan said. “He’s got one big honking smile,” Chuck added. If you’d like to help Zach’s family with the costs of funding his cancer battle, here’s a link to a GoFundMe for the family.