New Mexico teams rally for hospitalized football player

LAS CRUCES, NM (AP) — For 22 seconds, none of the 104 players thought about football.

The high schoolers’ thoughts and prayers were elsewhere – with Abraham Romero in the intensive care unit at El Paso Children’s Hospital as a solemn silence engulfed the hundreds of fans at the Field of Dreams watching the game. Organ Mountain versus Mayfield High.

The only sound came from the flapping of a white flag with “#ABESTRONG” and the number 22, his jersey number, inscribed beneath an Organ Mountain High School logo.

Organ Mountain and Mayfield players knelt in midfield after it was announced that the first intercity rivalry game of the season would be dedicated to Romero, the senior Organ Mountain linebacker who stayed in a medically induced coma since suddenly collapsing between games during the team’s game against Deming. They remained motionless during the silence – 22 seconds for #22.

Romero wasn’t present to watch the Knights’ 28-0 win over the Trojans (their first victory over Mayfield since 2017), but his presence was undeniable, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Fans wore bright green ribbons with the number “22” on their lapels. Players wore helmet decals with the initials “AR”. The home stands were covered in signs offering support for the 17-year-old: ‘STRONG FOR 22;’ “FIGHT FOR ABE;” “LET’S FIGHT ON #22.”

Booster club parents patrolled the stands holding collection jars with Romero’s photo on it while high school students collected for the 50/50 raffle, which both booster clubs pledged to donate to Romero and his family.

“I got choked up talking to the officials before the game. We still had Abe as captain tonight. We just wrote down his number,” head coach Steve Castille said. fumble. It’s huge. (Football) must be a bit on the back burner, but the game is still on the schedule.

Romero’s mother, Elizabeth Alonzo, watched Organ Mountain’s most inspired performance of the season on her iPad resting on her hospital bed as she squeezed his hand around hers. She still wanted him to be able to listen to the broadcaster’s call for the Knights to tie 0-0 at halftime, then take a 14-0 lead in the third quarter, then shove the dagger in the fourth quarter even though he was not aware. He had never missed a football game before.

“(I) watch the game right next to my Knight like I’m watching him on the pitch,” Alonzo said. “Always together.”

Romero has been unconscious for the past six days and Alonzo has asked for as many prayers as he can as his son continues to fight. But the community sent a reminder Thursday evening that the family is not alone.

Mayfield’s cheerleading team donated $260 to the Romero family, bolstering the more than $3,000 the city’s four major high schools have already raised. Mayfield raised an additional $1,389 in his 50/50 raffle to donate to the family, which also included proceeds from his final home game, and Organ Mountain contributed $624 from his 50/50 raffle. Alonzo said she has already personally received more than $300 given to her directly.

Cobre and Silver City High Schools also announced they will be accepting donations at their Friday night game, and Las Cruces High, Centennial, Mayfield and Organ Mountain High Schools will collectively hold a car wash at Three Crosses Regional Hospital in Las Cruces on Sunday, September 1. 4.

“I feel incredibly blessed that the community has come together for my son and he is so loved,” Alonzo said. “I would trade the world to have my son on the pitch tonight with the rest of his brothers.”

Alonzo remembered her family was not alone in the fight.

And heard too.

As time ticked away and both teams trudged into midfield for the post-match handshake, the stands at Organ Mountain erupted in chanting, “Twenty-two! Twenty-two!” The band hit their bass drum 22 times.

The marker stopped the clock at 22 seconds. Players carried a flag with Romero’s number as they huddled on the pitch after the game and proclaimed a new era of Knight football. They held a prayer for 22 seconds after the game. Several players stayed on their knees longer, holding back their tears.

This one was for Abe.

“It’s a tough thing to lose a brother like that the way it happened,” Castille said. “…It’s an amazing thing for the community when you get into this stuff. I don’t know if “romantic” is the word I’m going to use, but it brings this whole community together. »

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