It was June. Hot. Rensselaer's Ab Kiger was in the one place on the planet where he loves to be most, a football field.
Kiger was competing in a camp at St. Joseph's College. He went out on a route, planted and made a cut. The cut never happened. A nervous pop did.
"As soon as I hit the ground I knew," said Kiger, who tore his ACL for the second time in three years. The news did not look good.
"I assumed I was done for the year," Kiger said, "and with this being my junior year I assumed my dream of playing college football was over, too."
But fate would send a gentler wind his way. Kiger padded up in Week 4. He was moved from linebacker to safety to protect his knee. He was taken off offense altogether.
Bombers coach Chris Meeks wanted to be careful in easing his star back into shape.
"When you look at what Derrick Rose went through, the same injury and he was out for a year, it's been amazing at what Ab has done," Meeks said.
On Friday, Rensselaer (9-2) will play Bowman Academy (6-5) in the Class 2A Sectional 33 championship game. The Bombers are looking to win their ninth sectional championship.
The Eagles are playing in their first sectional championship game.
Rensselaer has played Bowman the last two years in the sectional. Last year the Bombers won 56-6 in the semifinal. In 2011 it was 52-28.
"They'll have athletes all over the place," Meeks said. "They have lots of speed on the field, but we're loaded with speed, too. In years past we'd line them up and grind on them. We have no problems getting in a track meet with anyone this year."
The Bombers scrimmaged both Morton and E.C. Central this summer to prepare for games like this.
Last year Kiger made 13 receptions for 145 yards on offense and 100 tackles and four interceptions on D. In a lesser role this year he has 46 tackles and one pick this year. He did not play offense until Week 8.
Against North Judson on Friday he caught a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first ball thrown to him all season.
His cousin, Jake Kiger, was Rensselaer's star QB a few years back. The name game continues with Ab's first name, which is Sam.
"Not that many people know that," Kiger said.
His middle name is Abram. When he was young, kids called him Sam. That didn't last too long. His parents wanted to call him Ab and that stuck.
"My mom wanted a Biblical name," he said.
Friday's game could have an Old Testament aura about it, great speed vs. great power. Kiger has a feel for how it will play out.
"Playing them the last two years gives us an idea," Kiger said. "They have a bunch of speed on the outside, but I think we can abuse them on the line. If we do that their speed won't be able to beat us."