“My elbow … my wrist … I would have been okay with that,” said Mitchell senior Ricky Trinidad.
“Last thing you want,” he said.
Nine days ago, in the third quarter of a football game in Trinity, Trinidad sped left, cut right, and crumpled to the turf as the opponents hustled over to deliver their licks.
He had worked so hard in the summer so his final high school season could be his best high school season, and all he could do was lie there for five minutes.
He was petrified.
“It being my knee was the worst part,” he said Monday, his voice still filled with agony. “I’m pretty upset. You work hard your whole life and it comes down to a few milliseconds.”
This morning, they will wheel him in for surgery, to repair the dreaded knee injury.
His season is over, and he is not alone.
Injuries are commonplace in high school football, from high ankle sprains to concussions to, well, torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
The most famous injury in recent memory might be the broken leg suffered by Plant’s Aaron Murray in 2008. It allowed current starter Phillip Ely to shine, until Murray heroically returned ahead of schedule to win a state championship.
Friday, a week after Trinidad went down, two more players of note tore their ACLs — Armwood wide receiver A.J. King and Pinellas Park quarterback Jesse Hevia.
Armwood will be all right. The Hawks have a wealth of talent to turn to, the result of years of success that has helped build a powerful program.
And King will be okay. He was playing his first regular-season game, due to a balky knee, but he has committed to Purdue and all but has a college scholarship in hand. He will get another chance.
But Trinidad, who has offers from Georgia Southern and Youngstown State (both schools have called him to tell him the offers were still on the table), was playing for his future, and so was Hevia.
Considered a bit undersized for a quarterback, Hevia had languished in a run-first Wing-T his junior season, but had been putting up impressive numbers in 2010.
It was going to be his breakout season, something to put a twinkle in a college scout’s eye.
Friday night, he was well on the way to leading his team to a victory over Northeast. The first drive produced a field goal. The second, Hevia ran in for a score, and it was 10-0.
The next drive?
Hevia and Trinidad have a lot in common. They are scrappy, hard-nosed and determined. Neither is a blue-chipper, but they are both blue collar, and they have both been winners.
Hevia and Trinidad were the kind of guys you can’t help but root for. If Trinidad is too small for college football, why is he running everyone over? And doesn’t long-suffering Pinellas Park deserve a quarterback who seemed set to lead it to the playoffs for the first time since 2001?
They were off to great starts. Trinidad was averaging more than 20 yards a carry. Hevia had more than 500 yards passing and no interceptions.
Of course, it’s a cliche to say that life isn’t fair. We all know that.
It is, however, what you make it.
Monday afternoon, Trinidad sounded defiant. Yes, his high school football career was over.
But he wasn’t done.
“I’m bouncing back, I’m going to get in even better shape than I was,” he said. “Make sure you let everybody know, this is not going to stop me.”
He will get another chance.