There is so much uncertainty when going into a football game.
What does the other team have in store for you? Can you win your individual battles? Will the ball bounce literally and figuratively your way? That’s tough enough as is, but when you throw in getting cleared minutes before kickoff, that’s a whole different animal
That’s what happened to Beau Kelly before his Chaparral Firebirds took on the defending state champions Centennial Coyotes last Thursday. The senior wide receiver and defensive back had been knocked out with a shoulder injury the week prior against Horizon and was cleared to play at about 6:55 p.m., five minutes before kickoff.
He got word he was cleared, so he threw on a shoulder brace and got dressed. He met his teammates as they congregated just off the field.
“It was so hectic,” Kelly said. “But, I got it done and played that night, so that’s what happened. In the mind, though, it was just crazy.”
To be able to transform your mental focus from spectator to playmaker in a few mere minutes takes focus and experience. Chaparral is in need of that as they replace key contributors on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Like Kelly’s ability to adjust before the Centennial game, Chaparral is already making adjustments early in their season, where they sit 0-2. They have reinstated the defensive scheme former head coach Conrad Hamilton put in the place in previous years and rotated in multiple receivers and running backs to see who would step up as a playmaker as they replace Christians Skeptaris, Ryan Bright and Kurt Shughart.
“He’s our spark so that allows us to do a lot of different things on offense and defensively by moving him and putting him in a lot of different places, being able to give him the ball in the backfield and giving him the ball at wide receiver as well,” Lewis said.
Despite the hurt shoulder, Kelly hauled in a reception, something his head coach said was a quite a feat while wearing a brace that limits his movement, he had some big hits in the secondary and was one shoestring tackle away from bringing a kickoff back for a touchdown. The 5-foot-8 senior possesses the “lightning in a bottle” effect that any coach will welcome.
“Obviously, on a team, you need to stretch the field,” Lewis said. “If you can’t stretch the field, then basically they are going to sit on everything that you do. Having him inside, having contributors on the outside, it now balances the offense and allows you to do a lot more things.”
If you happen to see Chaparral play this year, you most certainly will see number five on the offense, defense and special teams.
But don’t blink, you just might miss him