Blue Valley North defensive lineman grateful for football and victory over cancer

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- It takes strong nerves to survive November.

High school football teams in the Sunflower State enter round two of playoffs Friday, and one slip could spell the end of the season. Such is the case for Blue Valley North (6-3) and the Mustangs' six-game winning streak. Blue Valley North is also the defending Class 6-A state championship in Kansas.

One Mustang wanted to be at last year's state title game so badly, he was willing to work for it.

There's no prompting needed for Blue Valley North nose guard Brock Anderson. The senior defensive lineman hasn't missed a step, despite having missed all of last season while fighting cancer.

Brock Anderson

"I feel fantastic right now compared to what I was feeling last year," Anderson said Thursday.

The 16-year-old said doctors diagnosed him with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in April 2017 after he discovered a large lump in his neck while shaving.

Anderson needed five rounds of chemotherapy, which included several long hospital stays, to beat the disease.

"Right after I got done with chemotherapy, I got back into shape as quick as I could. I was ready to get out of that sluggish state," Anderson told FOX4's Sean McDowell.

The Mustangs dedicated their 2017 season to big Brock, who refused to miss the state title game. He couldn't play, but he was on the sidelines, working as a ballboy instead.

Anderson said he did it so he could celebrate with his teammates.

Brock Anderson

"Brock is a warrior. He's what I would call a 'war daddy,'" said Andy Sims, Mustangs head coach. "To watch a kid like that come back from cancer and have all of his friends rally behind him, that's really what stands out to me. That's what football means to me."

And now, with cancer behind him, Anderson is back in uniform, giving quarterbacks from opposing teams a sick feeling.

The teen said it was his friends who kept him going.

"The cancer isn't the hardest part. The chemo takes a toll on you," Anderson said. "I'm just glad to be here. I'm glad to be around my friends and to be able to play football with them."

Anderson plans to attend Kansas State University next year, where he'll study business. He and his Blue Valley North teammates are scheduled to meet Shawnee Mission South (8-2) in the second round of the playoffs Friday night.