Star quarterback watches his team battle from sidelines

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POSTED: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 10:33pm

UPDATED: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 9:13am

Mercedes and Edcouch-Elsa make up one of the deepest running rivalries in the Valley.  But tonight's game means more to Mercedes than the battle for bragging rights against their top opponent.

The Tigers have extra motivation with the return of their injured quarterback, Isaiah Garza, who was left paralyzed following a car wreck back in August.

"It means a lot because, well, today I went to the high school and they were all there supporting me and saying they were gonna play for me," Garza explained.  "It just means a lot that they're playing for me and they're playing their heart out."

Both Mercedes and Edcouch-Elsa are undefeated in district play, so tonight's game is a fight to prove which team will keep up their winning streak.

Head coach Mike Uribe says that this game goes beyond the final score or adding another win to their record.

"Isaiah for the last three years has been our true leader, and obviously with his accident occurring a few months ago it's been devastating to the team," explained Coach Uribe.  "But football teaches us about perseverance and strength and overcoming obstacles, so him being here, I cannot even explain what it means to our program."

One of the most emotional moments on the field happened before the game even started.  The entire Edcouch-Elsa team left the rivalry on the bench--just for a moment--as they went up to Garza to show their respect and support for his return.

"I didn't expect that to happen, but it really touched me that they did that," said Garza.

Coach Uribe explained that even a rivalry like this one can be shadowed by something more important, like the return of an injured player.

"The game of football is more than just a game, it teaches us life lessons, and this is one of the toughest lessons to learn, what he's going through.  So I think these young men and Isaiah, there's a bigger purpose, and it's in God's hands."

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