Football team overcomes injuries

By Adam Bosworth, Opinion Editor — Just as the Ohio State Buckeyes got ready to start the 2014-2015 season, Braxton Miller went down with a severe right shoulder injury. As week two came around for the Eagles, Tate Rhodes, the starting quarterback, sustained a broken collarbone when going up against a Massillon defender. Like the Buckeyes during the 2014-2015 season, the team will have a lot of questions to answer at the quarterback position due to Rhodes’s misfortune.

After Rhodes departed the field, JJ Olivera took charge of the offense. However, Massillon soon took control of the game and won with a score of 24-21. The team now stands with a 3-1 record going into week three with a Wide Receiver turned quarterback in Olivera.

“It helped my transition because all I need to improve is my run game. Most all of the pass plays I know because those were once plays I had to run. The experience at wide receiver will help me time up my throws and anticipate the direction of the routes,” Olivera said.

Changing quarterbacks is not something Scott Garcia, the Eagles’ head coach, was expecting when scheming for this upcoming season. The coaching staff is guiding Olivera to make it easier for him to man the offense. According to Garcia, they have simplified plays and made a less complicated communication system so he will be able to move the ball and get time to adjust to the unfamiliar position. Even though there is much adjusting to do, Olivera once ran the routes he now is going to throw so, this will give him an advantage in the air attack.

“I will make sure I am there as much as possible to ensure that he understands our offense and what his teammates and himself are capable of,” Rhodes said.

For Rhodes, the likeliness of returning soon is very improbable. The doctor told the Rhodes family some unepectedly bad news: he will most likely be unable to play quarterback for the remainder of the season, but there’s still hope for him to return as punter. However, Rhodes will continue to help Olivera along the way while giving his team as much support as he can from the sideline.

“I went to tackle the quarterback but as I did, he fell on my leg,” senior Tay Pryor said. “Even though I may be hurt for my senior year, I will still continue to show my leadership and mentor Gary Parker as he steps into my spot.”

Pryor, cornerback, is another athlete for the team to go down with an injury. Pryor went down with a broken ankle against Buchtel while pursuing the quarterback. He has been a key piece to the Eagle’s defense and with him gone Gary Parker, senior, will now step up into the starting role for Pryor.

“Go out and play hard,” Garcia said. “Yes, this is a huge learning curve but anything is possible with the team we have this year. We still have a lot to learn and we just need game experience.”

Coach Garcia is not giving up on the season just yet and now with Rhodes down, they will have an advantage mentally going forward. As for Rhodes, he should have his hands full leading the team and their new quarterback along the sideline.

“I will continue to show support to the team and will be there as much as possible for my teammates,” Rhodes said. “I will keep a positive attitude towards my time away from the field and trust in the recovery process to make sure I come back stronger than I was before and can provide the greatest benefit to my team to the best of my abilities.”

The team may have lost key players to their plans offensively and defensively, but the players behind them will be ready to fill their shoes. As Rhodes and Pryor look to show their support from the sidelines, Olivera and Parker will show their new leadership on the field.

[Updated Aug. 19, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]