Carlos Sanchez, a running back and linebacker for the varsity football team at Moon Valley High School in Phoenix, Arizona, died as a result of injuries sustained during a football play at Cactus High School in Glendale, on Friday, October 20, The Arizona Republic reports. He was 16 and a junior at Moon Valley.
Cactus wants to support the Sanchez family from Moon Valley. We are asking for donations above discounted prices for all games this week.
— CactusCobras (@CactusHSCobras) October 26, 2017
At the request of Carlos’s family, the exact nature of the play is not being reported, but according to Gary Welchel, the commissioner of officials with the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the play involved Carlos “blocking and landing on the ground” and then hitting his head. Although he was injured, the play was described as being “clean.”
Medical personnel rushed Carlos to John C Lincoln North Mountain Hospital in Phoenix, where he was listed in critical condition upon arrival. Hospital officials confirmed his death on Sunday evening. Back at the high school, the game did continue, with Cactus eventually defeating Moon Valley, 41-27.
“Carlos Sanchez had a 200 pound heart stuffed into a 170 pound body,” Moon Valley football coach Seth Millican was quoted as saying. “Carlos Sanchez was the very best of us. He was the best we had to offer. He was a constant force of hard work and selflessness on our team. Carlos Sanchez, not because of his death, but because of how he lived, has made each and every person on our team a better person.
“The example he set by always putting others first, always working his hardest and always having a smile on his face will live on. My team is full of young men who will go out into the world and treat people in a better way because of Carlos’s influence. They will be more able to teach their future children the values that Carlos Sanchez exemplified.”
An official cause of death might be forthcoming after autopsy results are released, but an initial fire department report said Carlos suffered a seizure during the play. After he was tackled, though, he reportedly got up and walked a bit before collapsing.
Parents and students gathered outside Moon Valley High School on Sunday, after officials had confirmed Carlos’s death, to build a memorial with candles and pictures, The Glendale Star reported. Numerous social workers and counselors were at the school this past week, and Principal Anat Salyer sent a letter to the Moon Valley community about the incident:
Good evening Moon Valley Parents and Guardians,
The Moon Valley High School Community is saddened to learn of the death of Carlos Sanchez, a high school junior and varsity football player. Carlos passed away over the weekend after Friday night’s game. Our school community is truly heartbroken by this news and we all extend our deepest condolences to Carlos’s family and friends during this difficult time.
To support our students, the district will assemble a team of trained social workers to be at Moon Valley on Monday. Those in need of assistance with their feelings of loss and grief will be allowed to visit these professionals throughout the day. In closing, if we can be of assistance to you and/or your child, please do not hesitate to contact me.
— CentennialAthletics (@CeHSathletics) October 27, 2017