Football coach ready for last game before cancer treatment

(Source: Collierville Football Kick-Off Club)
(Source: Collierville Football Kick-Off Club)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South football coach is having to end his season early after being diagnosed with cancer.

The Collierville High School Football team is preparing for its last game with head football coach Mike O'Neil.

O'Neil revealed a cancer diagnosis last week; he's leaving the city to undergo treatment.

"Overall, I feel pretty good," O'Neil said.

Looking at O'Neil, you'd never know he's battling cancer.

Ahead of his team's big game Friday night against rival Arlington High School, it's a lot to comprehend.

"It was a secret I held for about 48 hours," O'Neil said. "I found out that Wednesday."

He's preparing for his last game on the field before he heads off for throat cancer treatment in Houston, Texas. He told his players after a big game last week, ironically against Houston High School.

"I was just trying to get everyone in here to break the news and it went from so much joy to kind of a somber time," O'Neil said.

He's carrying on through it all and being positive. He's also received so much community support, with a crowdfunded page that has already raised more than $3,500.

"It's been a beautiful thing to see how much Coach O'Neil means more than just football to Collierville," parent Scott Hendricks said.

Students, parents, and even complete strangers are doing all they can to help.

"We expect him back as soon as we can get him back," Hendricks said.

O'Neil is overwhelmed and has a message for everyone.

"Pray for me, think about me, but don't be sad for me, be strong for me," O'Neil said.

Additionally, Collierville Football Kick-Off Club is selling t-shirts to raise money for O'Neil's treatment.

The shirt reads 'Dragons don't back down.' Collierville High School is known as the Dragons.

All sales from the t-shirt will go to O'Neill and his family.

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