GRIFFITH | The kid came in like a ghost. There were whispers and chats about him. But nothing definitive. Then, he disappeared. Poof.
And just when you thought the myth vaporized, Griffith's Justin Green appeared again. This time in a varsity uniform against Highland in last year's sectional opener.
Green scored three touchdowns in his first game before leaving with a pinched nerve and a devastating loss.
So on Friday night inside The Boneyard with historic rival Hobart in town, Green was limping noticeably. A sore ankle. But one thing was for certain.
After what Green has been through, nothing was going to keep him out of this game.
“Not a chance,” Justin said of sitting out this one. “Even with the cramps, I had to be there for my team.”
Despite a 56-38 loss to the Brickies, this tailback is someone we all need to keep our eyes on. No. 3 had a 99-yard kickoff return, a 48-yard touchdown run and a 54-yard touchdown reception.
“He's got an intriguing story,” said his older brother Tyrell Green.
Justin grew up in Naperville. His parents then moved to Las Vegas. Green was there for two years and it wasn't working out. Some off-the-grid issues had him move in with his brother in Griffith.
He worked out all last summer. But a week before the Chesterton scrimmage the IHSAA ruled him ineligible because his parents stayed in Nevada.
“When we heard about the ruling I hugged him and walked away and cried for him,” Tyrell Green said.
“I cried,” Justin said. “I wanted to be out there so bad last year.”
He wanted to play with QB Austin Brown. Current QB Kyle Bulkema was injured last year. If all these guys were eligible and healthy Griffith would've had the greatest show on turf.
Justin's father, Eric Green, played at Illinois Benedictine. In 1995 he was one of the last cuts by the Detroit Lions. The next year the same script played out for the Buffalo Bills.
The genes were passed down to this talented young man.
“Justin's a great kid who works hard and has a great desire to win,” Griffith coach Jim Pickett said. “I think both teams have to work on their defense and we will. We have to work on our depth, too.”
Green is out on the field this year, and worth the price of admission. The IHSAA allowed him to play JV last year. He scored six TDs against Morton in the opener.
But he knew, and his classmates knew, it was JV.
Not anymore. Viva Las Vegas is varsity now.
“I was ready, excited,” he said about this season. “I want everyone to know I'm a team player, humble. I want to do better each and every game.”
If both teams do the same these guys could play again in November in the regional. I would take the “under” in that one.