Football fights injuries

This year, the football team has had to overcome a major obstacle: injuries. More than a few players are severely injured, including seniors Sterrett Woods and John Coffin, juniors Sam Schmal, Joe Janeczko, and Charlie Walker, and sophomores Hal Silcox and Russ Ude. Other injuries include seniors Reed Namnoum and Clay Shaw, juniors Nelson Douglas, Conrad Cornell, Graham Powell and David Mitchell, and sophomore Robert DeGolian.

There have been 75 injuries so far this season that have caused a player to miss a practice, and at least 26 of those have caused the player to miss a game. Most of the injuries have been minor sprains and strains, but they still have a profound effect on the team and staff.

“It certainly challenges our coaching and training staffs to be able to adjust and adapt,” said assistant coach Joe Sturniolo.

Although the injuries have been a major setback for the team,  younger players have stepped up to fill the missing positions.

“We adjust by giving younger or less experienced players a chance to step up, to move into these vacated positions,” said Sturniolo.

“If there is good news in any injury, it is that it creates opportunities for other players to shine.”

“It’s not just injuries to starters that have an effect,” said Sturniolo. “Losing any player means we have to adjust in numerous places.”

The injury of sophomore Russ Ude, for example, had a major effect on the team’s offensive line.

“I stepped into a starting role on offense after [junior starter] Sam Schmal got injured,” said sophomore Russ Ude, who got injured shortly after. “So my getting injured really hurt our depth offensively.”

For the players who are hurt, watching from the sidelines is far more agonizing than their injuries.

“Not playing is the most difficult part,” said senior Reed Namnoum, who is out due to a bruised hipbone. “All you want to do is help your team win.”

Junior Joe Janeczko’s serious injury during a JV game against Marist earlier this month is going to have a long-term effect. Janeczko underwent serious knee surgery and was hospitalized for a week.

“Joe Janeczko got hurt and will miss the rest of the season,” said Sturniolo. “That leaves our JV team without their starting quarterback, and the varsity without the QB that runs the scout team all week.”

Despite the loss of so many valuable players, younger players have shown a valiant effort to deaden its effect on the team’s success. Thanks to players like junior Sloane Shuler and freshman Rankin Wooley, the Wildcats have overcome the obstacles imposed by injury and declared victories against both Thomasville and Laney.

Although the vast number of injuries puts a lot of pressure on inexperienced players, the team’s dedication to one another and positive attitude has made this possible.

“Everyone has practiced hard and studied film,” said senior Kyle Murphy. “The younger guys have done everything so that when it comes to game time they know what to do and do it well.”

Despite all the challenges injuries may bring, the strength and training staff are doing a phenomenal job of rehabilitating injured players as quickly as possible and preventing future injuries. Although not all injuries can be avoided, preparation in the weight room is important in preventing muscle and ligament tears.

“The training staff helps get our players treatment that is beyond compare for a high school and even some colleges, which gets players back on the field faster,” said Sturniolo. “Prevention and treatment of injuries are areas that excel at Westminster, and that makes us a better football team.”

The senior leadership, ambition of younger players, and coaching, training, and strength staffs make injuries to players on the football team a problem that does not define the team’s success or future. Players and coaches are learning from the injuries and learning how to turn this disadvantage around. While an injury certainly is disappointing, the team is growing closer and making the most out of the situation.

“We have great coaches who are great with helping us develop and getting us mentally prepared for games,” said Ude. “Although I hate being injured, I’m glad that guys are seeing that as an opportunity to do great things.”