Joe Davidson

High school football notes: Franklin, Jesuit players unite after grisly injury

In a Sept. 26, 2014 game against Grant, Franklin High School quarterback Jacob Lopez (12), looks to pass. During a game last week against Jesuit, Lopez suffered a broken femur and dislocated ankle when he was tackled after a 30-yeard run.
In a Sept. 26, 2014 game against Grant, Franklin High School quarterback Jacob Lopez (12), looks to pass. During a game last week against Jesuit, Lopez suffered a broken femur and dislocated ankle when he was tackled after a 30-yeard run. sacbeephotos@sacbee.com

High school football coaches often talk about teachable moments, and what happened Saturday in Carmichael was a perfect example.

During a Delta League game between Franklin and Jesuit with playoff implications, Wildcats quarterback Jacob Lopez was tackled after a 30-yard run midway through the third quarter. As he twisted to get extra yards, his right leg planted and gave way. He broke his leg and dislocated his ankle, tearing ligaments.

Players from both sides took a knee as coaches and trainers from both teams tended to Lopez, keeping him calm to help prevent him from going into shock.

After Lopez was loaded into an ambulance, Jesuit public address announcer Tim Fleming told the crowd, “That’s Jacob Lopez. Thoughts and prayers to him. Good luck, son.”

Jesuit rallied to win 27-20 on Calvin Brownholtz’s 47-yard touchdown pass to Jonah Allman, but the victory isn’t what will be remembered. Instead, the lasting image will be of Jesuit players inviting the Franklin team to join them at midfield for a group prayer.

Brownholtz had mixed emotions. His team won, but he anguished over his counterpart.

“He’s an amazing quarterback, and we hope he has a quick recovery,” Brownholtz said. “Hate to see that happen. We’re all out here doing everything we can to win, but, really it’s just a game.”

Said Jesuit coach Marlon Blanton: “I feel awful for Lopez. This prayer was for him. We’re all in this together.”

Lopez had surgery Saturday afternoon at Kaiser and was discharged Monday.

“He’s a great kid, gives you everything he’s got, and the team loves to play for him, and the line loves to block for him,” Franklin coach Mike Johnson said. “Hard thing to go through. You’ve got 17-, 18-year-old boys turning into men, and they’re crying in the middle of battle. It’s hard to get that out of your head.

“Visually, the injury was bad. That’s when football becomes very real, very dangerous. The postgame scene was great. That was a group of teenagers that handled a difficult situation with class and unity. They were all upset as football players, not just as Jesuit and Franklin players.

“They get it, especially the seniors. They understand that there’s a major finality to this point of the year. For a majority of these football seniors, football ends in a matter of weeks.”

Johnson had a painful flashback when he saw Lopez go down. In the second game of the 2013 season, Johnson’s son Brandon, a junior receiver, broke a leg while blocking, and father and son were emotional as medical personnel tended to Brandon. Brandon had a productive senior season and now attends Boise State.

After Lopez was injured, Johnson’s son Brady, a sophomore on the Franklin junior varsity, asked, “You OK, Dad?”

“I was reliving what happened two years ago, and it was terrible all over again,” Johnson said. “We lived it, and Brady knew it. We all feel for Lopez. I told the team, ‘Gentlemen, bones heal. This is not a head or back injury. Lopez will be fine.’ That gives me solace.”

Et cetera – No. 20 Capital Christian’s staunch defense allowed an opponent to score for the first time in four Golden Empire League games when Natomas’ Adrian Leyva threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Strickland on Friday. Capital Christian, which won 55-6, has outscored GEL opponents 239-6. Leading the defense are lineman Weston Jones, linebackers Jack Haney and D’Marcus Ross, and cornerback Bryce Leach.

▪ Monterey Trail coach T.J. Ewing is in no mood for moral victories, but he’s gaining some. Ewing, known for having his small roster play big, gave No. 4 Grant a scare on Oct. 16 before losing 21-6 when the Pacers scored the final two touchdowns. On Friday, No. 2 Elk Grove didn’t exhale until completing its 31-20victory, with one Monterey Trail drive consuming 11 minutes. Monterey Trail (3-5) needs wins in its final two games against Jesuit and Davis for a shot at a playoff berth. The Delta sends at least four teams to the postseason.

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The Bee’s Top 20

Team

Rec.

Prv.

1. Folsom

8-0

1

2. Elk Grove

8-0

2

3. Oak Ridge

8-1

3

4. Grant

7-1

4

5. Inderkum

8-0

5

6. Antelope

8-0

6

7. Granite Bay

5-3

7

8. Rocklin

5-3

8

9. Placer

8-0

10

10. Franklin

5-3

9

11. Sacramento

5-3

11

12. Burbank

5-3

15

13. Del Campo

6-2

13

14. Whitney

6-2

14

15. Bear River

7-1

12

16. Cosumnes Oaks

5-3

16

17. River Valley

7-2

17

18. Jesuit

5-3

18

19. Christian Bros.

7-1

19

20. Cap. Christian

8-0

20

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