Turlock Christian High football coach Rusty Lyon called over a couple members of his coaching staff. He wanted to ask them about a certain detail of one of last season’s infamous injuries.
The team’s linesmen coach and defensive coordinator, Aaron King, didn’t want to think about last season, simply because it brings back some bad memories. Then, Dirk Ulrich, the defensive backs coach, chimed in.
“Those blows could have hurt any bigger, normal program,” he said.
Last season’s roster listed 26 players. But for the season finale, the Eagles only suited up 13. So, maybe, that explains why the coaches just don’t want to talk about last season’s unfortunate circumstances.
It’s not unusual for the Eagles to work with a small team, but only having 13 players toward the end of the last season? That was hard to believe. Lyon has summed up last season as the worst case of injuries in all his years of coaching.
“I think the thing you take away from a season like that is perseverance,” said Lyon, who is in his ninth season as the TC coach. “I’ve said it on a number of occasions that I’m very proud of the guys that stuck it. They could have packed in it, but they didn’t pack it in. They toughed it out and played as hard as they could that last game.”
The Eagles finished last season with a 2-8 overall record and lost by 11 points to Delhi High in the season finale. Undoubtedly, having more than 13 available players would’ve increased TC’s chances.
So just imagine what the Eagles thought when they spotted junior quarterback Chase Gonzalez walking around with crutches last week. They had that “here we go again” feeling but quickly learned that his injury was a minor sprained ankle, which he suffered after a friendly basketball game, and he will recover before the season opener.
At the same time, the Eagles don’t take injuries lightly. They have 23 players, a number that ties with the highest in program history. And, of course, the TC coaching staff wants to keep it that way. So coaches are watching the players carefully, making sure they get the proper treatments.
After practice, the Eagles visit the weight room to keep themselves stronger — a routine they implemented this season.
“We’re all keeping everybody in check,” senior wide receiver Nick Truax said, “making sure no one messes around. We’re stretching a lot more. We’re lifting every day after practice, which is something we didn’t do last year. Also, the way we’re hitting: Everybody’s hitting with good form. We’re not taking out knees. Everybody’s tackling high, but we’re still hitting hard.”
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