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November 21, 2013

Empire’s Price moves past injury

John McKelvey
The Duncan Banner

EMPIRE — Empire senior Stephen Price sits in coach Tony Roberts’ office looking at his brace on his right leg.

He laughs a little as he realizes that, next week, he’ll be 100 percent for the first time since September. It will have been 10 weeks when the team plays Hollis on Friday, the appropriate length for his leg to heal. For the last two games, though, it hasn’t slowed Price down.

“I feel 100 percent,” he said. “I was a little timid at first, scared about getting hit during Velma, but it pulled through pretty well. The doctor said there’s no sense in taking it off, but you’re not going to get hurt from the same injury. If you do, it’s really unlucky.”

The cast hasn’t been a problem with Price running. He said so himself, but his stats prove that opinion. In last Friday’s game against Crescent, Price amassed 216 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 35-yard interception return on defense.

That was the only side of the ball that Price could play when he made his initial return two weeks earlier against Velma-Alma. Though he could run without hurting the leg, the doctor didn’t want the direct impact of a tackle on the brace. Senior Dillon Twigg thought he still performed admirably.

“When he came back, he had an explosive return,” Twigg said. “Against Velma he had a really good game on defense. Then, last week, obviously he had a good game on offense. He said it’s just been pilling up on him and now he’s just letting it go.”

Price said he needed to release some of the frustration from watching the team on the sideline, knowing he could have made a difference. Twigg even went so far as to say the team could have had an even better season had Price been in the game. His ability to glue the team together and help everyone get into position hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Any time you lose a kid of his caliber, it has an effect on your team mentally and emotionally,” Roberts said. “Him being there is a big relief. It makes the coaches feel better too, because we know that he is another coach out there on the field.”

With his senior year in doubt after his injury, Price had quite a bit of frustration. He focused on what he could control.

“Being a senior, you’ve waited your whole life for this year,” Price said. “Then you figure out that you’ve broken your leg, you don’t really know what to do. I just prayed and knew that God had a plan.”