ST. JOHN | Lake Central coach Brett St. Germain has loved and followed football for all of his life. Current points connect with past memories often.
That's what happened last Friday with about nine minutes to go in his Indians' win over Valparaiso. His star running back David Yancey went down in pain, clutching his knee.
"I've told several people it reminded me of Joe Theismann," said St. Germain, referring to the National Football League quarterback's broken leg captured on national television in 1985. "I've watched David's and it looks just as bad.
"It's a miracle that his career isn't over."
Beyond Yancey's coming career at Purdue, St. Germain, and a couple other region coaches, are preparing for tonight's sectional openers with their best player getting injured last Friday.
Griffith's Austin Brown was injured against E.C. Central after a vicious hit and did not play in the second half.
Kankakee Valley's Tyler Birky injured his leg against Munster.
A season of hopes and a lifetime of dreams hang in the balance as all three await the final word from their doctors.
"Everyone has injuries, but I don't ever remember dealing with an injury to a star player like David," St. Germain said Wednesday night. "It's never happened to me before. David's ability, what he means to us, I've never had to cross that bridge before."
Yancey had not been to school by Wednesday. He had an MRI on Tuesday, but his coach had gotten no information by Wednesday evening. To say Yancey is doubtful for tonight's Portage game is the best bet.
Lake Central beat Portage 40-17 on Aug. 31.
"I highly doubt that David's going to play," St. Germain said. "Initially when it happened in the game, I felt for a moment our kids drop their heads a bit. Then, all the kids realized everybody has to step up their game.
"Our philosophy here is 'Next guy in.' It's the hand we're dealt. No one's going to feel sorry for us."
Like Yancey, Griffith's Brown is a huge part of his team's offense. The senior quarterback has passed for 484 yards and five touchdowns, rushed for 1,047 yards (7.0 avg.) and 17 TDs and punted 22 times for a 37.5 average.
Brown also Griffith's No. 2 tackler with 76 total and four interceptions.
As Griffith (3-6) prepares for tonight's Class 4A Sectional 9 opener with Highland (1-8), Brown remains a game-day decision after leaving last Friday's loss to E.C. Central with a first-half injury.
"He's still visiting a doctor and I can't really discuss injuries," coach Jim Pickett said Wednesday. "I can't talk about any kind of medical issues to anybody in the media. I want to make sure that I'm not violating any privacy rights."
Pickett said Brown has been throwing the ball this week and doing light workouts.
Birky did not have a full, 100 percent practice until Thursday. K.V. will host Hobart in tonight's Class 4A Sectional 10 opener. The senior running back has rushed for 1,423 yards and has scored 24 touchdowns.
Despite what appeared to be a high ankle sprain against Munster, Kougars coach Brad Stewart shared big news Wednesday night.
"Tyler is going to play," Stewart said. "We're still testing to see if it's 100 percent. We're planning for him to play. But if he can't, we have good depth at that position."
Johnny Morrison, Johnny Williams and Keegan Higgins will all be there if Birky isn't ready to go.
"Some of that is having to play through the pain," Stewart said. "Everybody has injuries right now. Except for the slight question mark with (Birky), this is the healthiest we've been all year.
"And that is rare."