All signs point to the worst fears being realized in the case of Burlington Central quarterback Ryan Ritchie’s latest injury.
The preliminary prognosis following Friday night’s 26-14 win against Genoa-Kingston was that Ritchie tore a ligament in the thumb on his left, non-throwing hand on a two-point conversion play during the fourth quarter. Ritchie went to see a hand specialist Monday, and Rockets coach Rich Crabel said he expects Ritchie to undergo surgery before the end of the week.
The injury was another dose of bad news for the snake bitten Ritchie, who returned Friday night from a two-game absence after injuring his ankle on Burlington Central’s second play from scrimmage during a Week 2 loss against Stillman Valley.
Ritchie is a three-year varsity starter at quarterback who also stars as a sharpshooter for the Rockets basketball team. He passed for 113 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 106 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win against the Cogs, which wasn’t necessarily his last appearance on the gridiron this season.
“I doubt he’ll play quarterback again this year, but there is a possibility he could come back and play something else,” Crabel said. “One of the options is to put a hard cast on, but I think he needs to weigh those odds and think about his next season. Whatever recovery time is best for him for basketball is probably going to be what he needs to take a look at.”
Crabel said the thinking is that Ritchie’s thumb injury couldn’t get any worse if he plays with a hard cast. Crabel went on to add Ritchie is an aggressive player with decent tackling skills, so he could potentially contribute on defense despite focusing almost solely on his quarterback duties the past few years.
The loss of Ritchie comes as Burlington Central continues to push toward its second straight playoff appearance. The Rockets own a 4-1 record and are tied for first place in the Big Northern East going into Friday’s trip to play at Marengo.
Senior Tyler Majewski started at quarterback when Ritchie was sidelined earlier this season and will be back under center against the Indians. Burlington Central won both games started by Majewski, who has completed 24 of 34 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown this season.
“Tyler has done a really nice job for us,” Crabel said. “We lose a little bit of athleticism without Ryan, but there’s nothing in our system that Tyler can’t do. He’s very capable of running our offense and he was very successful in those games that he did play quarterback.”
Injuries leave Royals depleted
Larkin figured to have a hard enough time hanging with an undefeated and state-ranked Batavia team this Friday at full strength, but now it looks like the Royals could be missing several key players when they visit the Bulldogs.
Senior offensive lineman Alex Schabert visited a doctor Monday about a right knee injury he sustained during Friday’s loss against Streamwood. Also making trips to the doctor were junior quarterback Kemmerin Blalark (concussion) and junior running back Damion Clemons (hand).
On top of those ailments, senior JD Darke is no longer with the team as Larkin (2-3) moves into the second half of the season.
“We are kind of the walking wounded,” Larkin coach Scianna said. “We might have less than 30 dressed this week, which is sad since we’ve got to go against the toughest team of the year.”
The silver lining is that none of the injuries appear to be serious enough to sideline anyone for the rest of the season.
Scianna said Schabert, a two-time All-Upstate Eight River honoree, was walking without crutches, but swelling in the injured knee remained a concern. Meanwhile, Clemons is seeking a solution to a nagging hand injury he’s been dealing with since Larkin’s Week 3 win against Elgin.
Blalark’s head injury will almost certainly sideline him for this week’s game against Batavia, and his return for a Week 7 tilt against Bartlett is no guarantee. Junior Jeffon Pruitt could be called upon to step in at quarterback in Blalark’s absence.
Sallee contributing in many ways for Red Raiders
In addition to running for a team-best 93 yards and passing for 117 yards and three touchdowns, Huntley quarterback Kam Sallee also provided his team’s winning points with a 29-yard field goal with 10:37 remaining in Friday’s victory against Dundee-Crown.
“I had complete confidence,” Sallee said. “Once I saw that ball on the tee it just felt like practice. It was an amazing feeling to see the ball go right in between the uprights.”
The special teams contribution is nothing new for Sallee, who made all four of his point-after attempts against the Chargers while handling punting duties as usual. He has 14 PATs and two field goals to go along with four rushing touchdowns and 10 passing touchdowns this season.
“I can’t imagine that there is a better kicker and punter in the state of Illinois than Kam,” Huntley coach John Hart said. “He has just been incredible.”