By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds turned out for a mass Thursday morning to support a Hill-Murray football player who recently suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Hill-Murray Senior Zach Zarembinski collapsed on the sidelines in the game’s third quarter Saturday. Zarembinski was taken to a hospital where he was treated for a brain bleed. He underwent surgery and was then placed in a medically induced coma.

There wasn’t a dry eye in Hill-Murray’s auditorium as Zach Zarembinski’s sister spoke to the congregation.

“Mentally, he can get through anything. He’s a follower of Jesus Christ, and he’s always there to cheer us up,” said Becca Zarembinski, Zach’s sister.

Her words marked the end of a touching service that offered prayers for the senior, who was hoping to catch the attention of college recruiters soon.

Those who know Zach say his intimidating 6-feet-2, 300-pound stature is very different from the person inside.

“He’s definitely more of a softy,” said Alex Bloemendal, a Hill-Murray varsity football player. “The freshmen really look up to him on our football team, and he helps the younger guards and tackles on our team.”

Zach’s teammates wore their jerseys to the mass, while the rest of the crowd was dressed in green – Hill-Murray’s color – to show their support.

“Knowing Zach, he’s gonna work his rear end off just like he did to get himself back and get himself healthy again,” said Pete Bercich, Hill-Murray football coach. “So, it’s gonna be a long road, but he’s strong enough and tough enough to do it.”

Zach’s sister thanked paramedics for their quick thinking at Saturday’s game, and she thanked the school and community for keeping hope alive.

“He can feel you guys praying for him,” she said.

Zach’s sister told the congregation they were able to remove his breathing tube this morning, but doctors did have to put it back in later.

Doctors are still trying to figure out what caused the brain bleed, as Zach did not appear to suffer any major blows to the head during that game.

If you’d like to donate to help with Zach’s medical expenses, a GoFundMe account has been created.

Kate Raddatz