Justin Redfern has always loved playing football, but his playing time during Cannon's inaugural football season was in jeopardy after the quarterback broke the thumb on his throwing hand during practice more than a month ago.
But the junior refused to let that injury keep him off the football field.
"I wouldn't care if my leg is broken or whatever," he said. "If I can be out on the field and play, I will play whatever position - anything to help the team out there."
Even though the Cougars are primarily a running team, Cannon coach Donnie Hayes said not having Redfern healthy has been a big blow for his young team.
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"He makes our offense go," said Hayes. "When he's out and not able to be back there, it really dwindles our ability on the offensive side of the ball."
Redfern decided to play quarterback with a cast on during the team's opening game against North Raleigh Christian.
"I adjusted," he said, explaining that he even practiced throwing short passes with his left hand in case he needed to pass during the game. "I just wanted to go out there and play football."
Hayes said Redfern played his natural position against the Knights despite his injury because the team didn't have enough time to get a replacement ready. Hayes said that may have had an effect on the game.
"If a team looks out there and sees a quarterback with a cast on his hand, they can figure out real quick that the other team isn't going to throw the ball," he said.
Despite that, the Cougars still rushed for 320 yards. Cannon went on to lose the game 35-14.
"If we had been able to throw the ball effectively against them, the outcome would've been much different," said Hayes.
Having a bye on their second week allowed Hayes' coaching staff to prepare sophomore Miles Martino, a Jay M. Robinson transfer, to take over the quarterback duties against Victory Christian Academy on Friday.
Redfern played wingback and fullback and saw some action at safety against the Crusaders. Playing with a cast on his hand, he rushed for 217 yards on 14 attempts to go along with three touchdowns to lead the Cougars to their first varsity win.
The 16-year-old said that playing with the injury forced him to adjust.
"I had to carry the ball with just my left hand, but honestly I didn't have a problem catching," said Redfern.
Having been in charge of Hayes' double-wing offense, which features a fullback and two wingbacks on most snaps, Redfern said he felt confident that he could play any position on the Cougar backfield.
"I know the offense, so I won't have problems with the plays," he said.
"It gives us the opportunity to at least keep our team captain out on the field," he said. "He knows every position on the offense and what everyone is supposed to be doing every play."
It has been important for Cannon to have Redfern playing because he isn't the only player on the team who is injured.
Junior linebacker Will Keenan, who tore a ligament on his thumb, and junior tight end Ryan Worgan, who broke a metacarpal on his hand, have continued to play despite their injuries.
Being a small school and already being without junior RB/LB Will Nork, who tore his MCL a week before the team's season opener, losing any additional talent would be a big blow for the Cougars.
"All those kids play on both sides of the ball," said Hayes, who only has 36 players on his varsity roster.
"It would be like losing eight starters. There ain't that many schools - not even bigger schools - that wouldn't have a tough time being competitive."
Redfern said he kept playing because he takes seriously his role as a team leader, as one of the Cougars' captains.
"We need to step up and help," he said. "If we're hurt and out on the sidelines, it will hurt our team's morale and confidence. We need to keep the team going."
Hayes said he's been impressed by the Harrisburg native's commitment.
"It speaks to how much he loves to play the game and how competitive he is," said Hayes.
Redfern should be back at quarterback for Cannon when the team faces Harrells Christian, the NCISAA division II state runner-ups, on Friday.
"A healthy Justin will be back at the helm and calling the signals," he said. "We'll be back at what we do."
Redfern is looking forward to his team getting healthy, so that he can lead his Cougars the rest of the season.
"When we get back and get some confidence and get healthy, I look forward to definitely having a winning season," he said.
"I look at our schedule and our personnel and I'm really liking our matchups. We have a legit shot to play good football and make the playoffs."