MARLOW — One of the loudest voices on the Marlow sidelines this season has been that of senior running back Nick Yates.
Even with crutches and a walking boot, Yates has led the Outlaws onto the field and patrolled the sidelines making sure his teammates are making noise for the Marlow defense.
After a serious ankle injury in the season opener, Yates is finally back to practicing again. He has been present at practice all season long, but as Marlow prepares for the playoffs, his return to the field is coming at a good time.
“He adds another element of speed and toughness to our offense,” coach Rob Renshaw said of Yates. “It gives guys that have been going every play an opportunity to not have to go every play.”
At practice Tuesday, he wore full pads without an ankle brace and rotated in with the running backs. Yates said he plans to simply have his ankle taped up before games.
Yates had done some running last week at practice, but he hadn’t sprinted since the injury until Thursday.
“It felt good,” Yates said. “I was kind of nervous to be honest. I was afraid I was going to tweak it. It still hurts when I’m running on it. It’s just the ligaments stretching out again, building back up.”
Yates said he felt much better on Monday, and pushed himself more. He rated himself 85 percent back to normal, but he’s trying to convince the coaches he’s ready to play.
“I feel good,” Yates said. “Probably not as fast, but I think I got my strength up enough to where the speed will follow the more time I’m on it. I just want to be out there.”
Renshaw knows his offense could use the ‘boost’ of having Yates, but the coach isn’t going to rush him back for Friday’s game. With a home playoff game secured, Renshaw said Yates probably won’t play against Dickson.
“He’s getting better,” Renshaw said. “If he plays, it’ll be sparingly.”
When Yates does return, sophomore running back Preston Nunley doesn’t expect it to take long for him to get up to speed.
“He’s been out there running, conditioning with us and working out,” Nunley said. “He’s been trying to learn our plays and everything like that. That’s a real help. We can definitely use him.”
Yates said it hasn’t been easy having to watch the Outlaws play without him. While eager to return to the field, Yates knows he might just have to be a voice for one more game.
“God’s placed me in that role,” Yates said. “I’m more than happy to still be a part of that team, still be a voice. The guys have been doing well without me. Hopefully when I come back I can contribute.”