Every football team is forced to fight off the injury bug at some point over the course of a season.
Greenwood and Indian Creek are hoping that they’ve survived the worst of it.
The Woodmen and the Braves both survived without their No. 1 running backs for most of the second half of the regular season, but they’ve got them back in time for Friday’s sectional openers.
Indian Creek junior Avery Welch was among the county’s rushing leaders with 629 yards in five games before sustaining a ligament injury that kept him out of action for three weeks.
He returned last Friday for the Western Indiana Conference title game against Sullivan and ran for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Indian Creek coach Brett Cooper said that Welch probably could have come back a week sooner, but there was no reason to rush it and risk complications before the most important games of the season.
Greenwood senior Brandon Rosado also returned to the field last week, carrying five times for 14 yards in limited action against Whiteland. He had missed two games after getting injured in Week 6 against Paoli.
“I thought of his five carries (last) Friday, his last one was his best,” Greenwood coach Mike Campbell said. You could just tell he was getting more comfortable as the game went on.
In Rosado’s stead, Nick Willham did the bulk of the heavy lifting. He now leads the Woodmen with 620 yards rushing, while Rosado is right behind him with 617.
Campbell said that Rosado’s absence allowed Greenwood to experiment with some different looks — some involving Willham and fullback Anthony Williams, and others with five receivers and an empty backfield — that will make the team more difficult to prepare for.
Still, he knows the Woodmen are better off with their best and most seasoned runner back in the fold.
“He’s got 400 carries under his belt in his career,” Campbell said, adding that Rosado “probably has the best vision” of all the Greenwood running backs as a result of that experience.
Likewise, the Braves took used Welch’s absence as an opportunity to give some reps to some different players. Senior Michael Perkins did the bulk of the running, but sophomores Aaron Hart and Owen Sego also got some opportunities.
“It’s never good when your starting tailback goes out,” Indian Creek coach Brett Cooper said, “but it does give you an opportunity, especially as a first-year coach, to get a look at some other people and see what they can do.”
Dealing with the absences of Welch and Rosado showed the Braves and Woodmen that they can persevere in difficult situations. They’re hopeful that there won’t be any more issues during the postseason, but in football, you never know.
“Everybody’s always one or two injuries away from devastation,” Campbell said.