This hasnt been the season that Ardrey Kell football coach Adam Hastings was expecting.
Friday night, in a 49-0 loss to Sweet 16 No. 1 Butler, Hastings watched backup quarterback Austin Pires suffer a broken leg, one play after Pires had a 35-yard run.
Pires will miss the season, which unfortunately is a recurring theme for Hastings team, which is 4-3 overall after losing for the third straight time against Butler.
Last year, Michael Ruhe set a school-single season record for receptions. He broke his hand in summer practices and hasnt played this season.
Hastings had high hopes for running back Josh German, but a broken collarbone in summer practice ended Germans season before it began.
Defensive back Brandon Busman suffered a stress fracture in his foot late last year. Everyone thought it would heal and Busman would play at all-conference level this season. The foot hasnt gotten better. Busman hasnt played.
All those guys would be starters and contributors, Hastings said. But what it means is weve got a lot of young guys who have to step up.
Unfortunately, the Knights injury problems dont end there.
Star running back Quay Gilmore, having as good a season as any back in the county, injured his knee in a 35-7 loss to Independence Sept. 21. He missed his second game Friday and likely wont play at East Mecklenburg Friday. And Jake Elliott, one of the Knights top defensive players, didnt play against Butler due to a thigh injury.
Its frustrating when you have injuries that wont heal, or something like that, Hastings said, but I cannot say enough about the resiliency of the other players. Theyre fighting through it. We came out at the beginning of the year and played hard. The last three games, weve played really hard.
Hastings stayed up until 3 a.m. after the Butler game looking at film. What he saw didnt surprise him. His team competed with the nationally ranked Bulldogs.
I really believe we can turn it around, Hastings said. Thats a good feeling for me as a coach. On film, I was impressed with how close we were on some plays. Obviously, Butlers a tremendous football team and theyll be playing for a long time. Small mistakes against Butler become big mistakes. I feel if the guys we have can correct some of them, we can finish the year out strong.
• Was a little surprised by the score of Rocky Rivers 7-0 win over East Meck. Rocky River (6-2, 3-1 Southwestern 4A) was averaging more than 29 points per game. East Meck (0-8, 0-4) had scored 30 points all season and was allowing 35 per game.
I think the Ravens, who have now won four of five games, were probably looking ahead to Fridays home game with rival Independence (7-1, 4-0). And if I were the Patriots I wouldnt read a lot into the score Friday.
• If youd penciled in Charlotte Catholic as the ME-GA 7 champion, slow your roll. Olympic (4-3, 3-0) has won three straight games and shut down a West Meck team Friday that gave Catholic all kinds of fits a few weeks earlier. The Trojans have plenty of speed, and a star in tailback Jarrett Harris, who rushed 29 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns against West Meck.
Olympic will be favored against Harding and Berry in the next two weeks, and two wins should set a championship showdown with Catholic at home Oct. 26. Last conference team to beat Catholic? That would be Olympic 21-14 in September 2009. Catholic has won 20 straight conference games since then.
• Mallard Creek is averaging 51 points per game and the Mavericks only scored six in their first game. Since then, Mallard Creek has topped 60 points three times and 70 twice.
Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr