Players and coaches at Delta Charter High School will remember their first home game not so much for the numbers on the scoreboard, but for the historic home opener at their 16-acre sports complex, establishment of a football tradition at the school, and for the team’s dedication of their season to a teammate battling cancer.
Both teams lined up at the north end zone at halftime to recognize Delta Charter sophomore Elias Gamez, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma two years ago and continues battling even as the cancer has become more aggressive.
“It means a lot. They’re family to me,” Elias said after a framed jersey with his No. 1 was officially retired for all Delta Charter sports teams.
His mother, Jacqui Valle, said that it’s the second game Elias has been to this year as he has been in the hospital, but he wasn’t going to miss a chance to be with his teammates on their big day.
“It was an unbelievable amount of emotion that came through us, just the energy from the team, the players, the coaches, even the other team. It was a huge blessing,” she said.
Delta Charter junior fullback Josh Marseline, who scored the Dragons’ only touchdown on Saturday, the first on Delta Charter's home field, said he just wanted the team to put up its best effort for their teammate.
“That touchdown was for Elias. He was in my head all game. This game is all about him,” Marseline said.