During the last regular-season game of his high school career, Jackson Sodrel broke his leg.
Remarkably, it didn’t end his high school career.
He returned to play again. Not once but twice.
On Nov. 30, he played in the Class 6A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
On July 15, he’ll play in the Indiana Football Coaches Association North/South All-Star Game.
A 2016 Center Grove graduate, Sodrel can’t think of a better way to cap what has been a truly special final high school season.
“I’m just excited and ready to play,” said Sodrel, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker. “I’m ready to get back out there and play alongside some of the (state’s best players).”
As evidenced by his All-Star nod, Sodrel himself is one of the state’s best players.
A Marian University recruit, Sodrel was Center Grove’s defensive captain and leading tackler in 2015. He averaged a team-high 5.2 tackles a game before fate dealt a crushing blow in the regular-season finale.
In a clash against two of the state’s top Class 6A teams, Sodrel suffered a fractured right fibula on Oct. 16 against Cathedral.
He suffered the injury in the first half and, unaware of the severity, played in the second during the Trojans’ 7-0 win.
Only later, when pain and swelling intensified, did Sodrel learn the true nature of the injury. In theory, it should have ended his season. And it would have, were it not for two things: his commitment to rehab and Center Grove’s commitment to winning.
Unbeaten and ranked No. 1 heading into the postseason, the Trojans ran the sectional, regional and semistate table and extended their season long enough for Sodrel to return — which he did on Nov. 28, just in time for the Class 6A state championship game against Penn.
Sodrel reclaimed his starting position and helped the Trojans earn a 28-16 victory. The win capped a 14-0 season, making Center Grove the first undefeated champion in Class 6A history.
Broken leg or no, Sodrel was determined to be part of history.
“I had to come back because there was no way I was not coming back,” he said. “Every day I was in the trainer’s room, doing all the exercises he had me do. And I was going to the team doctor and getting exercises from him to do at home.
“So I was just doing whatever I could to get it healed as fast as I could.”
Sodrel declared himself 100 percent healthy by the time of the state championship game and has been focused on college preparation ever since.
A first-team member of the Daily Journal’s All-County Team and an honorable mention All-State selection, Sodrel has been strength training and participating in 7-on-7 games a couple days a week at Marian and working out on his own at a local gym.
Although he doesn’t know what his freshman role will be for the defending NAIA national champion Knights, he plans to be ready for anything.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m very excited to see the competition down there.”
Before he joins the Knights, Sodrel has one more high school game to play this month. He will suit up for the South Team, where he will be joined by Center Grove teammate John Richardson, an offensive lineman, and Greenwood cornerback Jackson Daugherty.
For Sodrel, it will be perfect highlight for a perfect senior season. Even with a broken leg factored in.
“It went just as I expected. We wanted a state championship, and we got it,” Sodrel said. “We didn’t lose a single game, so it went perfectly, actually.”
Name: Jackson Sodrel
High school: Center Grove (2016)
Size: 6-foot-1, 220 pounds
College plans: Will continue football career on scholarship at Marian University
Career plan: To become pharmacist
Parents: Brandon and Angie Sodrel
What: Indiana Football Coaches Association North/South All-Star Game
When: 7 p.m. July 15
Where: North Central High School, 1801 E. 86th St, Indianapolis
Local players on South Team: John Richardson, offensive line, Center Grove; Jackson Sodrel, linebacker, Center Grove; Jackson Daugherty, Greenwood, cornerback