What a difference one Friday night can make.
Heading into last week’s season opener, the Center Grove football team had an embarrassment of riches in its offensive backfield. Senior running backs Titus McCoy, Trevor Hohlt and Triston Clark were all back from last year’s Class 6A state champion, and the Trojans were adding Russ Yeast, a highly coveted recruit who moved from Ohio.
By game’s end, the backfield depth had been significantly depleted — and it may be a while before head coach Eric Moore has all of his weapons at his disposal.
McCoy, who rushed for 1,912 yards and 40 touchdowns as a junior, was injured during the first quarter of a 21-16 home loss to Warren Central. Hohlt then dislocated his left kneecap in the second half.
Both will be sitting out Friday’s showdown for county bragging rights with Whiteland.
“It’s a good week to be Whiteland,” Moore shrugged.
Hohlt, who had a similar issue with his right knee last season, should likely return to action the following week against Carmel. McCoy, on the other hand, will be on the shelf for at least the next three games with what has been diagnosed as a high ankle sprain.
If all goes according to plan, the preseason Mr. Football candidate can return Sept. 16 against North Central.
For McCoy — who hadn’t missed a down during his first three seasons with the Trojans — it’s going to be extremely difficult to watch from the sideline.
“I feel like next week, I’m ready to perform,” he said. “I’m the type of guy who is all for this team, and I don’t care; if I’m barely hurt, I’d rather be playing. I feel like the offseason is when I can rest.”
In fact, McCoy tried to get back into the game against Warren Central, but the trainers quickly nixed that idea after taping the ankle and testing it.
“We tried to tape it up, and I couldn’t even walk on it,” McCoy said. “I could barely jog.”
The Trojans will try to develop some other offensive options while McCoy and Hohlt are out, but it’s likely that the lion’s share of the burden will fall to Yeast, who showed his big-play capability with an 84-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on Friday.
McCoy is eager to get back as soon as possible — but Moore has stressed to him that it’s far more important to be fully healthy in late October and November. Center Grove measures its success almost entirely on postseason performance, and its outlook would be diminished significantly if its star player isn’t at 100 percent.
So as hard as it might be to stay patient, that’s what McCoy knows he has to do.
“It’s the healing process,” he said, “and unfortunately, it has to happen.”