PIGSKIN PREVIEW TAB --Hope Springs eternal

Dominant PEM running back hopes for full recovery from hamstring problem

By Pat Ruff

Randy Spring is known to occasionally go lunging for his inhaler. This comes after the Plainview/Elgin-Millville football player has exerted himself for an especially long stretch.

Spring's football opponents, unless they are like him and suffer from asthma, don't come armed with the same breath-catching device. But after a night of trying to tackle him, many wish they had.


Spring, who at running back seems half cat, half bulldozer, will take your breath away. So will his statistics. A senior this season, he led the Three Rivers Conference last year with 1,500 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns, and a whopping 7-yards-per-carry average, en route to being named honorable mention all-state.

"Randy has a great ability to change speeds; he can really make people miss," Plainview/Elgin-Millville coach Bill Ihrke said.

"Plus, he is a pretty compact kid and has been a fixture in the weight room for several years," Ihrke said, alluding to the fact that at just 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, Spring still has the ability to knock you backwards. "He basically can carry a pile (of tacklers) along. But when (opponents) see him for the first time, I think at 5-8 and 170 pounds they take him for granted."

Always wearing a hat

When folks see Spring for the first time and it's away from the football field, something non-athletic comes to mind. It's what's up with the bandana or the baseball cap -- whichever he happens to be sporting at the time -- and why doesn't it ever come off.

There is a reason for Spring's affection for headgear. It's called alopecia areata. Since grade school he has been suffering from the affliction, one that makes hair fall out in random clumps.

By his sophomore year, Spring had finally had enough. He quit trying to cover up the bald spots with comb-overs, finally electing to shave his entire head clean.

It was a dramatic decision for Spring and a traumatic time. He's been wearing hats ever since to cover up his hairless head.


"That was a tough decision," Spring said. "I was worried about what people would say. But everyone has accepted it. People around here know now why I wear a hat around all the time. But (alopecia areata) has pushed me even more in life, because I didn't want to just be known as the kid who wears the hat around all the time."

Spring has certainly solved that worry, and sports has gone the longest way toward doing it. A three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball), Spring is a standout in all of them. But it is not just his physical gifts in those sports that has allowed him to make a name for himself. It's also his overall being, and particularly his leadership.

Born leader

"Randy is not a rah-rah guy," Ihrke said. "But he is a come-follow-me guy. He is not going to take any shortcuts. He has gotten a lot of accolades but he has never sought them out. And kids appreciate that when Randy has a big game (in football), he always wants to talk about his offensive line."

Spring's biggest concern these days is not the lack of hair on his head, or even his asthma. But it is something physical. Spring pulled a hamstring this past spring in baseball, did it again this summer in a Winona State University football camp, and now is left wondering when it will ever be completely healed.

He had hoped that he'd be moving at 100 percent by now, especially as revved up as he is for this season. Spring believes this Plainview/Elgin-Millville team has the makings to get to state, something that has eluded Spring since he joined the varsity his sophomore year.

Spring lists himself at 90 percent healthy now. His hope is that that percentage makes a gradual climb up as the season progresses, not the other way around.

Because this, he's sure, is going to be a special season.


"Our senior class has been playing together since the seventh grade," Spring said. "We have a great chemistry, plus we have an awesome junior class coming that has never lost a game. I'm just hoping and praying that my hamstring holds up."

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