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‘Carry On’ tradition grows at Mesa High

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Many of Mesa High's athletes showed up Saturday to help clean the Mesa Cemetery while honoring the "Carry On" mantra that was started in 1932. (Courtesy of Mesa Athletics' Twitter page.)

The “Carry On” mantra has been around Mesa High since 1932.

It is one of the oldest and unique stories tied to Arizona high schools and eventually became the basis of the school song.

It stems from a tragic loss of a Mesa student and football player, Zedo Ishikawa, when he used the butt end of shotgun in order to separate two dogs fighting in the front yard of the family home.

The gun went off when he used it to separate the dogs, and shot him in the chest. Legend has it that one of the final things he said to his family was, “I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to the Gilbert game tomorrow night so tell coach (Steve) Coutchie and the boys to carry on.”

Ishikawa died from the wound, and the Jackrabbits lost 6-0 to Gilbert.

The Carry On rally cry helped get his teammates throughout the season without one of their top players, and the phrase was turned into the school song by the music teacher in 1933.

About a decade ago, a cool off-shoot of the tradition came to be by then Mesa football coach Kelley Moore.

Before the start of each fall season, the Jackrabbits head to Ishikawa’s burial plot at Mesa Cemetery on Center Street to clean up grounds at the cemetery and sing the “Carry On” song while surrounding Ishikawa’s headstone.

It has continued to grow after other sports were included in 2016 and the biggest turnout to date came on Saturday morning.

Ishikawa’s nephews – Mark and Brian – attend the event and speak about their uncle and the tradition even though they were Westwood High graduates.

It’s a tremendous honor to have Mesa High athletes, coaches and administrators honor our Uncle Zedo Ishikawa as they give back to the community,” Brian said. “We had the most ever today, around 350 to 400 students and coaches. My brother Mark and I talk about Mesa High tradition and our Uncle Zedo’s words of ‘Carry On.’ It’s a very nice tradition.

“We feel privileged that Mesa High has welcomed us with open arms and treat us as one of their own.”

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

“Carry On”

Carry on, Mesa High.
Carry on, ye sons and daughters true.
Let this anthem reach the sky
Build ye glorious vision new,
We’ll fight forever for the right,
Carry on with hearts aflame.
Tradition great and mighty deeds
Add honor to thy name.
Carry on, carry on.

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