It’s Friday night, 25 minutes before Silverdale Baptist Academy and Brainerd kick off the annual two-day high school football jamboree at Finley Stadium.
A portion of the night’s estimated crowd of about 3,500 to 4,000 is in the stadium watching the Seahawks and Panthers go through pre-game warm-up drills.
Silverdale’s Josh Brady, the team’s starting center is not as psyched as his teammates, but understandably so.
Brady is hobbling around on crutches, with no chance of getting into Friday’s 20-minute “game.”
In a Tuesday scrimmage against Meigs County, Brady, a sophomore who helped the Seahawks go two games deep into the 2012 Class A state playoffs, suffered an injury to his left ankle.
At best, it’s a high ankle sprain.
At worst, he may have suffered ligament damage and possibly be out an extended period of time. The Seahawks open the season next Friday at home against Lookout Valley.
“I thought I broke my leg,” said Brady, sitting on an aluminum bench on the visiting side of the stadium, his crutches propped up beside him. “I went to make a tackle on a dive play and two Meigs County guys dove toward me at the same time and we collided.”
What happened next?
“I kept on playing,” Brady said. “I probably went another 10 or 12 plays. On the last play, I almost got to the quarterback for a sack, but he threw the ball and I pulled up, looked around and got ear-holed by some player and got a concussion.
“That took me out.”
A year ago Brady suffered a separated shoulder in preseason camp, but didn’t miss a game while the Seahawks went 10-1 – the only regular-season loss was to District 5-A rival Boyd-Buchanan – leading up to a second-round playoff defeat (28-20) at Knoxville Grace that ended their season.
In the scrimmage earlier this week, Brady had the misfortune of two injuries.
What kind of luck is that?
Brady has undergone an MRI and returned to see Dr. L. Shay Richardson for an expected “reading” of the test. However, Dr. Richardson put that off until an ankle specialist has a chance to review the MRI results.
“I go back Monday,” Brady said.
If the diagnosis is not favorable, it’s likely Brady and his parents will seek a second opinion “as soon as possible,” he said.
In the aftermath of the concussion, Brady didn't think much about his injured ankle, but that changed the morning after the scrimmage.
“It was swollen some after the scrimmage, but really big the next day,” he said. “I was going to the doctor to have the concussion checked out, so they took a look at my ankle as well.”
Brady has been at Silverdale since kindergarten and played football from the time he was 6 years old.
As a freshman, Brady played mostly on offense with some time with the defense and started on the kickoff and kickoff return teams.
“Getting injured bummed me out,” he said. “I was looking forward to the jamboree and playing at Finley Stadium. Now I’m really looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me.
“I think we’re going to have a strong season. We’ve got a lot of returning seniors and that’s a good thing. We can only get better from here.”
Seahawks coach Al Rogers hopes for the best possible report on Brady from doctors this week.
“We just don’t know much about the injury,” Rogers said. “We’re hoping for some good news. God’s in control of this one. Josh just wants to play football.”
Rogers spoke with Brady earlier on Friday.
“We prayed and the kids are praying for him,” Rogers said. “I told Josh it isn’t just about the game. He’s going to learn some life lessons from this because he’s going to go through stuff like this in life.”
What’s Brady’s best hope for this season?
“I want to get back out there and play as soon as possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the Seahawks battled the Panthers to a scoreless tie, Brady did the only thing he could – support his teammates.
Tyner decked out in gray: Rams coach Wayne Turner got the jump on Tennessee in the team’s game against Bradley Central.
The Rams came out in smoky gray uniforms for the first time, having ditched their usual maroon-and-gold uniforms that have been worn for years.
The switch is a result of Tyner’s game against Red Bank last October.
“The kids had been wanting black jerseys,” Turner said as the Rams stretched on the sideline. “I told them that if they beat Red Bank we’d check into getting black jerseys.”
The Rams throttled the Lions, 30-14, securing a spot in the Class 2A playoffs.
“The next day Mark Howard, a Riddell sales rep, was at the school and I asked him about some black jerseys. He pulls out this gray jersey and the kids saw it and loved it. I liked it too. We went with the gray uniform.”
Tyner’s players were upbeat about breaking out the new uniforms on Friday.
“They’re tickled to death,” Tuner said. “They wanted to wear the full uniform to school today, but I told them they couldn’t do that.”
As for getting the jump on Tennessee, which will wear smoky gray uniforms for the first time – and only time this season – in an undetermined home game this season, Turner said, “Yeah, they called me for the specs on ours.”
Turner broke into a laugh and went about directing the stretching session.
Bradley Central beat Tyner, 7-0, when quarterback Brett Standifer, a transfer from Soddy-Daisy, hit wide receiver Dee Crisp on a 24-yard touchdown strike.
In that game, the Bears’ senior safety Baylor Terrell intercepted two passes.
“I’m glad to have the ability to play like I did tonight,” Terrell said. “I didn’t have any interceptions last season because I didn’t play much defense. I started as a slot back and tailback. I want to give everything I have on every play. That’s the key for me.”
Herink, Jones in mid-season form: Cleveland’s talented quarterback Austin Herink and wide receiver D.J. Jones, both seniors, hooked up on a 79-yard touchdown strike in a 14-0 win over Boyd-Buchanan.
“It was fun,” Herink said. “It’s such a short period of time that it probably makes us play harder. It was good to see new competition. We’ve already started preparing for McCallie and didn’t spend much time on Boyd-Buchanan. We adjusted and it was a good night.”
Cleveland opens the season on Thursday, hosting McCallie at 7:30 p.m.
Herink, one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the area, completed 4-of-5 passes for 120 yards.
“I like playing against competition we don’t usually see,” said Jones, who also had an interception. “Austin and me have been together all through high school – he went to Cleveland Middle and I went to Ocoee Middle – and we feel real comfortable with each other now. He’ll put the ball in the right spot and I’ll go get it.”
The Blue Raiders’ other score came on a 30-yard run by Raekwon Bunion.
Attention-grabbing tackle: McCallie’s senior defensive back C.J. Fritz’s jaw-jarring hit against a Signal Mountain player brought loud oohs and aahs from the fans.
Fans could easily hear the impact in the mostly empty stadium. They could almost feel it.
“That felt real good,” Fritz said. “I got a clear shot. We didn’t do so well early, but played well toward the end. It was good experience for us.”
Defensive back Myles Patton also blasted an Eagles runner a few moments before Fritz’s sledgehammer strike.
The Blue Tornado’s Paul Silverblatt broke a long run for the game’s only touchdown.
Silverblatt’s teammate, Javaughn Craig also had a touchdown run on the final play that was negated by a penalty.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)