ST. JOHN | Mike Oljace had felt it once before. It was like a sort of weird numbing sensation. Like an ache from another planet.
It showed how quickly one's world can shift.
The Times Preseason All-Area left tackle was more than pumped when the season began.
His Lake Central Indians were coming off their best season in a decade, owning a share of the Duneland Athletic Conference title. Several colleges were calling.
All signs were pointing up.
Then, the 6-foot-6, 285-pounder made a block during a two-a-day drill, and the sound of screeching brakes could be heard on U.S. 41.
"It didn't hurt at first," Oljace said. "But I couldn't move my arm. The pain slowly grows until it's pretty bad. It's awful."
The senior came out of the woodwork last season. Basically, as the program did, too. NCAA D-II power Ferris State University gave him an offer.
Bowling Green and Central Michigan were also showing great interest. Oljace dislocated his right shoulder during summer workouts. He did it again in the Indians' scrimmage against Warren Central.
The first two dislocations were on the right shoulder. The last one, during two-a-days, was on his left shoulder. The standout missed L.C.'s first two games of the season.
He will play tonight when Times No. 1 Chesterton comes to the Burial Grounds.
Oljace said he feels about 80 percent. He will have to have surgery on his right shoulder after the season. He can't get down in a three-point stance due to the injury, so he stands upright, almost in a pass blocking stance, even when the Indians are running the ball.
"Mike's playing on guts and toughness right now," L.C. coach Brett St. Germain said. "He almost has to block that old-school shoulder block. It limits what he can do.
"But he's one of our leaders. We'd be in deep trouble without him."
This game is big. But not as big as it would've been. Last Friday's 20-16 loss at Michigan City shocked everyone in the state. L.C. is now trying to wake up after that nightmare.
"We got outplayed and out-prepared," Oljace said. "They wanted it more than we did. We have to learn how to rebound. We have a chance to show what we're made of.
"We want to prove everyone wrong. No one is going to pick us to win."
Oljace is a member of the A-B honor roll. But he gets an A-plus when it comes to will. This is the time of the season where injuries start popping up on every roster.
The teams that find a way to overcome have success.
"No question this is a big game. For both teams," said St. Germain, "but it's bigger for us, because we lost. A share of the conference is what is on the line. That's what's at stake for us.
"This is part of the process. We've worked hard to be perceived as one of the top teams around. This is our first big loss since we got back here. We have to learn how to come back."