Prep Football: Rash of Heritage School's camp injuries claims QB
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
If high school football coaches could design the perfect calculator, it’d come without a minus button. Already, Heritage School head coach Kevin Prisant has pressed it more than he’d like to admit with his players relegated to the sidelines.
The Heritage School returned from preseason camp on Friday tested after six days of camp, but also worse for the wear. And while typical bumps and bruises were to be expected, Prisant didn’t expect to step off the bus with his senior starting quarterback Joe Bonner’s throwing arm in a sling.
“Six weeks. That’s what I’m hearing,” said Prisant of Bonner, who was injured on a clean hit on a throw during a scrimmage Tuesday night, two days after arriving in south Georgia for camp. “We were right where we needed to be coming into camp and moving along through camp, we were getting at it. And then one injury happens, and another guy gets hurt here and it’s like, ‘Is there something in the water?' We were where we wanted to be when we left for camp, but when we got back, we weren’t where we wanted to be.”
After a program-high seven victories in 2011 and a promising offseason through spring and summer workouts, Heritage was hoping to spend the brunt of camp working on its option attack with thin numbers on the line. The injury to Bonner, who ran for 15 touchdowns last season, threw that pitch off course a bit.
“We didn’t look that crisp that night that Joe got hurt. He’s been their quarterback since seventh grade,” Prisant said. “The next night we still didn’t make as many plays, but we were doing it fast and moving the ball. I can live with that. I was very pleased considering what had just happened.”
If Bonner’s absence wasn’t enough, the team went through most of camp without three other major contributors from last year — fullback/linebacker Dalton Trammell (684 yards, 4TDs), receiver/tight-end Garrett Jones and two-way player Chris Moore (57 tackles in 2011). Tyler Bean also expects to miss practice this week after suffering a concussion.
“I looked at the rosters and we’re already the smallest in Class AAA [numbers-wise],” Prisant said. “We’re already down from 31 to 26 players.”
Even without most of the five injured, Heritage School put together a solid scrimmage against Southwest Georgia Academy after making a short trip from camp to Damascus, beating the Warriors 21-7.
“It got us a little bit of confidence going,” Prisant said.
Sophomore Brad Macke, who missed most of last year with a broken collarbone, worked behind center during the brunt of the final three days of camp. Macke led Heritage School's middle school team to a MAC Championship two years ago, but doesn’t have the size or the presence behind center yet to make up for Bonner’s absence.
“He’s still young and he’s learning,” Prisant said.
Macke won’t have to go it alone, however, considering the Hawks may have their own version of Tim Tebow in senior Candler Rich. Two years ago when Bonner went down early in the second half of a Heritage School game as a sophomore, Rich stepped in to run, throw and catch touchdowns for the Hawks.
“We’re going to throw in our Wildcat stuff earlier than I thought,” Prisant said. “We’re going to have to just to be a threat. But we’ve got more players this year that can get the football and do things with it, guys like Parker Jones and Spencer Perry. We’re going to have to find a way to get it to [tight end] Tyler Henson and [David] Bready. We’ve got the skill guys, but right now we’re very thin up front.”
With just over two weeks to go before the 2012 opener, Prisant and his staff know they can’t dwell on the injuries, knowing they have to prepare to be without their starting quarterback well into the first full month of the season.
“We’ve just got to do what we can to get them ready,” he said. “We’re low in numbers and just have to find a way to stay alive. If we can survive that first game, I think we’ll be in good shape.”