Laying on the turf, a knee injury threatening to end a tremendous senior year for Ouachita Christian kicker/linebacker Luke Albritton, the Eagles (14-0) knew things were not good.
Albritton soon learned that the Week 9 injury against Cedar Creek was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and many thought his OCS football career was over.
Yet, just three weeks later, Albritton was back on the field, kicking field goals and extra points. It was an inspiring comeback for the No. 1 Eagles, who face No. 2 Haynesville for the LHSAA Class 1A state championship at 4 p.m. Friday inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
"It was tough seeing him laying on the ground," OCS head coach Steven Fitzhugh said. "He had the look in his eye that he knew (the knee was hurt bad). Then we got the tough report back that it was a torn ACL. We knew he was done playing linebacker this year, but he said 'if there is any way possible that I can kick extra points.' So he went to very intense physical therapy for two weeks and got to the point he could kick two or three extra points per day.
"It was very inspiring for our team when we got him back in uniform. He is just an inspiration to our team everyday."
Albritton's quick return was no surprise to teammates that have been through so many highs and lows with him over the past four years and beyond. This will be the third straight 1A title game for the Eagles.
"I am Luke's best friend, and I didn't expect anything less," said OCS senior Braden Bristo. "He is just a country kid that is as tough as a boot, and I knew when the coaches said he might could still kick that he would do everything he could to get back on the field to help us win."
Almost as quick as he was on the sideline, Albritton was in physical therapy plotting a return to the field.
"It took a lot of prayer, and everybody at OCS has been really good to me," Albritton said. "I was kind of nervous at first (kicking with the injury). It took a lot of hard work and a lot of encouragement from my teammates. Those guys (on the team) mean a lot to me. I don't know the plan that God has for me, but I know it will be the right plan, and I just want to do anything I can to help the team, because they deserve a state championship as much as I do."
Despite the loss of three years worth of starting experience at linebacker, the OCS defense has continued its dominance since Albritton went down thanks to other seniors stepping up to meet the challenge.
Senior fullback Colby Webb and freshman James Anderson have both seen time at linebacker since Albritton was injured.
Whit Chapman has filled in at times kicking field goals and extra points for the Eagles. Albritton has made 54-of-60 extra points and is 5-of-5 on field goals. Chapman is 13-of-15 on extra points this season.