WOODLAND PARK - Injuries are a part of playing sports. But Woodland Park High School football coach Joe Roskam says enough is enough.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years of coaching,” Roskam said. “It’s been a rash of crazy injuries. It’s been a really weird, funky year.”
Sprained ankles, sore calf muscle, tweaked fingers are ugly bruises are common among athletes. But broken legs and concussions have been more the norm for the Panthers football team. Such was the case during a 28-0 loss to Pueblo Central on Sept. 28 when four Panthers went down with game-ending injuries.
“I knew right away when I got tackled it wasn’t sprained,” said Woodland Park senior wide receiver Joe Callahan, who suffered a broken fibula. “My right leg landed in an awkward position.”
Callahan’s injury occurred in the second half. But just four plays into the first quarter Panthers senior quarterback Jacob Censner also broke his fibula. Later, junior defensive back Logan Watters suffered a concussion, and senior wide receiver/defensive back Adam Primrose left the game with severe shoulder and ankle injuries.
A tough situation became almost unmanageable during the football team’s 49-13 Class 3A South Central League loss to previously winless Wasson Oct. 5 at Garry Berry Stadium. With Callahan and Censner hobbled on the sidelines on crutches, and Watters and Primrose not fully recovered, three more key starters went down.
Junior running back/linebacker Weston Shutts was lost for the season with a torn knee ligament, and senior defensive tackle Zach Menz and junior defensive end Shawn Didde were forced to leave the game with concussion symptoms.
“I have never been through a season with these types injuries,” Callahan said.
Neither has Woodland Park athletic director Michael DeWall, a former football coach.
“You tend to go through cycles,” DeWall said. “Some years you avoid those types of injuries, and other years you can’t escape them. Right now, Joe is experiencing it all. You just have to chalk it up to a fluke.
“Concussions are probably a product of increased awareness. A lot of it has to do with the fact our kids are bigger, stronger and faster than when I played. Coaches and our trainers are doing a great job of having the kids report.”
The football program is not alone in dealing with severe injuries. Junior Paloma Juarros, a setter on the volleyball team suffered a concussion during a match with Coronado on Oct. 9 when she was spiked in the face by an opposing player. The next day during practice, senior outside hitter Alli Buchholz suffered a concussion when he ran into the leg of teammate Elin Saxon.
“The next day I couldn’t remember stuff and I couldn’t comprehend; I had a massive headache,” said Juarros about her concussion symptoms following the Coronado match. “It was just kind of weird.”
Juarros was out for two weeks and was able to return to the team’s Oct. 23 match against Manitou Springs. Buchholz returned for the Oct. 27 Mitchell Marauder Tournament.
Even the cross country team was subject to more than its normal pulled muscles and shin splints.
“A lot of our girls came into the season with injuries,” said Woodland Park cross country coach Ron Payton. “I don’t really have a handle on it. They don’t do mega miles. I don’t have them training beyond what they can handle.
“It almost seems like a curse on a lot of the Woodland Park athletes.”
Or maybe it’s just one of those years?