The Duncan Banner
In order to make the playoffs, sacrificing your body is a necessity.
But, in the process of doing so, injuries can happen and sometimes derail a team’s season in a heartbeat.
For the Stephens County high school football teams that made the playoffs this season, battling through injuries became just a way of life.
“You try to have guys ready at every position in case something happens during a game,” Central High coach Darren Lamar said. “I personally try and prepare for those situations as best as possible. We’ll even go as far as to tell certain kids to be ready to play during pre-game warmups should one of the starters go down injured.”
At the beginning of the season though, many of the Broncho players were out injured, leaving CHHS thin at many areas.
However, with those players now back in full practice, the health of the Bronchos is at its highest point of the year.
“Tyler Lyles is the only one who’s still out because he injured his ankle against Alex,” Lamar said. “We also had some kids with concussion issues throughout the season, but they’ve come back strong. We’re about as healthy as we’ve been all season.”
In the case of Velma-Alma and Empire, injuries to quarterbacks have been the story of this season.
At the beginning of the year, starter Tanner Shorter was sidelined for the Bulldogs with a heart condition, thrusting sophomore Dylan Twigg into the spotlight, along with foreign exchange student Freddy Larsen at tight end. The changes immediately paid off as Empire began the season undefeated.
“We thought that Tanner would be back as soon as he was healthy enough,” Empire coach Tony Roberts said. “Freddy helped us out a lot and had a huge impact for our team this season. All of us had a feeling Dylan could play quarterback, and we were very impressed with the job he did for us.”
Meanwhile, V-A had the luxury of beginning its season with sophomore quarterback Ty Richardson at full strength. However, a broken leg against Wilson sidelined Richardson, sending freshman Andrew McGuire in to fill the void for the Comets.
“When Ty went down, then it was just one of those unfair things that happens during a season,” V-A coach Greg Gothard said. “You can either sit and dwell or do something about it. Andrew stepped in and has gone a solid job for us. Ty has been mentoring him as best as possible, so he’s been handling this situation very well.”
Down the home stretch of the season, there was another injury scare for the Comets as senior running back Dallen Mercer battled through a nagging ankle injury. Fortunately for V-A, Mercer didn’t have to miss any games and was able to keep playing offense, helping his team earn a home playoff game.
“Really good teams have players who can step in and pick up the slack,” Gothard said. “When we have an injury, then we send someone in who we feel is capable of filling the slot as well as protecting the starters.”