Pressbox View: Broken foot? Deal with that later
I've never played in a football game before with a broken foot, but the guess here is that it's pretty painful.
That said, last Saturday night, Plainview-Elgin-Millville senior Eric Rahman rushed for 142 yards on 25 carries in a section semifinal playoff game against Rochester Lourdes.
Four days before that, against Zumbrota-Mazeppa in the section quarterfinal, he carried the ball 17 times for 117 yards.
All on a broken right foot.
Wow. It hurts just thinking about it.
"He's always been a great competitor,'' said his coach, Bill Ihrke, "but even then, these last two games were a step above. I know that I was impressed. What a valiant effort.''
Ihrke wasn't even sure his star running back would even suit up for the Z-M game.
"He never practiced,'' Ihrke said, "but he did the walk-through in his tennis shoes and looked pretty good. I thought if we get five plays from him, great.
"So what does he do? Run like he normally does. Since we were fortunate to get the lead, we were at least able to take him off the field in the second half.''
His football problems date back a ways. Rahman broke both of his feet early last year, causing him to miss his junior season of football.
Then this year in the fifth game of the season (Sept. 28) in a non-conference game against Melrose, Wis., he broke loose for a long run, was tackled from behind and, again, suffered the same injury to his foot.
This time, the pin he had inserted in his right foot was bent all out of shape.
Rahman was to undergo surgery on Tuesday.
"Eric postponed the surgery once in order to play against Zumbrota and I'm sure he would have done so again had we been fortunate to beat Lourdes,'' Ihrke said.
In the Lourdes game, he played the entire way and afterward admitted that, yes, he was a little sore.
"I guess the adrenalin carried me through,'' he said. "Once I got going I was OK, but losing takes all that away.''
There was no question that he was going to suit up for the game.
"All I know is that it would have been more painful to sit and watch than it was to play,'' he said.
Just like against Z-M, Rahman did not practice in preparation for Lourdes and only went through a walk-through the day before the game.
"I never expected him to play against Lourdes, but he surprised me again,'' said Ihrke. "Put a number on it and he was about 80 percent for the game. But 80 percent of Eric Rahman would be full speed for most kids.''
Rahman has rushed for more than 1,110 yards (142 per game) and was among the Three Rivers Conference leaders despite missing those three games.
"Eric will never admit it but I'm pretty sure his foot got worse (against Lourdes) as the game went on,'' said Ihrke. "At the end of the game he looked to be in a lot of pain. You couldn't tell, though, if you were just watching from the stands.
"He gave it all he had.''
Lourdes coach Mike Kesler, for one, was impressed.
"If he wants to, he can play at the next level,'' Kesler said. "He's a very good back, one of the best we've played against. Having him play hurt like that is just remarkable.''
Rahman said his goal now is to get back as soon as possible in order to join the Bulldog basketball team. He played a key role last year in P-E-M's run to the Class AA state championship.
"Don't worry, he will play at some point this season," said Ihrke. "Eric has more drive and determination that almost any kid I've ever coached.''
Ihrke has seen a lot in his 16 years as a head coach. But a player going full throttle for two games with a broken foot ranks right up there.
"His story has already taken legendary status,'' he said. "As well it should.
"I asked him if he wanted to come out against Lourdes because I knew the pain was getting worse, and he said to me, ‘coach, not playing would be worse. '
"That just shows you what type of kid he is.''