SKOKIE — Midway through the second quarter of Niles North’s 51-7 loss to Glenbrook South, the Vikings’ Barrington Wade caught a screen pass, ran forward and then cut left toward the sideline.
A month from now, that play could go for a touchdown. On Friday, Wade covered 17 yards.
Still, it was a good sign for the Niles North junior running back, who was the team’s leading rusher a year ago. Wade made his 2014 debut against the Titans. He missed the first three football games of the season with a broken big toe on his right foot, the result of a locker room bench falling on him the day before the Week 1 opener against Shepard.
“If he was his normal self, even with Glenbrook South’s pursuit, he would have had that burst of speed to go the distance,” Niles North coach Mark Egofske said. “It almost was like a practice game for him. He was rusty, but this is something he has to go through.”
Cleared for full-contact practice Sept. 16, the 6-1, 208-pound Wade ran 10 times for 45 yards against the Titans. With the game out of reach, he spent most of the second half on the sideline and didn’t touch the ball in the fourth quarter.
“I’m getting there,” Wade said. “I need to get my conditioning and speed back up. I shouldn’t have been caught [on that screen pass]. That made me mad.”
But Wade said he’s happy to be back on the field after the freak injury. Egofske said he couldn’t believe what happened to his star offensive player.
“That’s part of coaching and playing sports,” Egofske said. “You have to fight through these things.”
Wade’s broken toe didn’t require surgery, and he did all he could to return to full health. He credited his recovery to the laser therapy he received at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park.
“I went there as much as I could for three weeks,” said Wade, who initially was expected back for the CSL North opener in Week 5.
Ashley Collins, a massage therapist at EFT, said the treatment Wade underwent is non-invasive and effective. It’s administered with a pointer for up to six minutes a session. The laser, which is held away from the body, penetrates the skin with its heat, promoting the flow of nutrient-rich blood to the injured area, according to Collins. She said it’s often used on bruises and pulled muscles.
“It helps speed up the healing process,” Collins said.
The Vikings need Wade more than ever after recently learning that junior running back Craig Dawkins most likely will miss the rest of the season with a broken left leg. Dawkins, who filled in while Wade was injured, got hurt during the first quarter of the team’s 34-6 loss to New Trier on Sept. 12.
“When Barrington gets into shape, he’s going to be a big-time playmaker for us,” Egofske said.
This story has been changed to reflect the following correction:
The article misstated the location of EFT Sports Performance. It is located in Highland Park, not Deerfield.