By Aiden Wacksman
Injuries have plagued the Oak Hall varsity football team this season, leaving many players on the sidelines.
Seniors such as quarterback Georgi El-Semarani, wide receiver William Rodriguez, and running back Carter Coleman have suffered injuries. While Coleman has already returned to the field of play, and El-Semarani hopes to play on Sept. 24 against Eagle’s View High School, Rodriguez’s injury is more severe.
Although Head coach R.J. Fuhr believed that most of the injuries were “bad luck”, he argued that Coleman’s injury was caused by a late hit. The senior was bent over a pile, and a player from the opposing team slammed into him. “I was pretty upset about that because the referees didn’t call a penalty,” Fuhr explained. These injuries have been especially difficult to deal with because the team is smaller. Thus, injuries have an even greater impact. “Missing four players is almost like missing eight,” Fuhr said.
He added that this season has been very difficult from a coaching perspective. “In my 20-plus years of coaching, this has been the hardest start to a season,” he stated. The passing of coaches Eli Walker and David Clark along with the injured players has also made things difficult for both coaches and players. “For us to be 3-0 is a testament to the kids’ resilience and toughness,” he said.
Rodriguez played on the varsity football team in his freshman and sophomore years but did not spend his junior year with them. In the third game of this season, he suffered a severe injury. “I got hit on a kickoff and fell on my arm, hyperextending my elbow,” he explained. Rodriguez won’t be able to play for the next three weeks and could miss even more time. “[Not being able to play for a lengthy amount of time] sucks since it’s my senior year,” he stated.
El-Semarani began his first full season with the varsity team this year. Unfortunately, in the second game of the season, he twisted his ankle on a quarterback draw. Now, he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to play again.
“Our [team’s] mentality is ‘next man up’,” he explained. He trusts his teammates to take the helm, but El-Semarani is frustrated that he can’t practice or exercise. “[Just sitting on the sidelines] stinks, but it’s fun to cheer on my teammates,” he said. El-Semarani added that he was proud of the younger athletes for stepping up to the plate.
Since many of the more experienced players have been sidelined, younger athletes have been called to action. One of them is freshman backup quarterback Dakota Brower, who led the team to a thrilling 30-23 victory over Seven Rivers Christian. He threw for 182 yards, two touchdowns, and completed a last-second touchdown pass to junior tight end Dylan Provencher.
“Injuries have really made it a struggle for the team… but we have been able to overcome it,” Brower said. Similar to Fuhr, he believes that most of the injuries were bad luck. He also explained how his injured teammates have motivated him. “It really made me want to work harder and do better for them,” Brower explained. Although he feels comfortable in the role of starting quarterback, it was not easy for the team at first. “[My teammates] were still getting used to having a freshman quarterback,” he stated.