Knee injury – finally – ends Wheeler’s senior season

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Storm Wheeler rumbles through the East Henderson secondary in what proved to be his final game (Matt Renn photo).

Storm Wheeler rumbles through the East Henderson secondary in what proved to be his final game (Matt Renn photo).

Storm Wheeler simply wanted as much time on the football field in his senior season as possible.

A severe injury suffered on the first drive of Polk County’s first home game against North Henderson seemed set to rob Wheeler of the remainder of his final year as a Wolverine. A desperate tackle by a Knight defender left Wheeler crumpled on the Polk County sideline with what would be diagnosed as a complete tear of his left ACL and a partial tear of his MCL.

But Wheeler wasn’t ready to say farewell to his football career. So after discussions with his family, doctors and Polk County coaches, Wheeler made what seemed an unlikely decision.

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He was going to keep playing for as long as possible.

“It’s something I will never get back,” Wheeler said of why he opted to don a bulky brace and suit up for games with Landrum and East Henderson. “Especially it being my senior year. You have to cherish every moment out there.”

Wheeler had 13 carries for 59 yards and a pass reception for 11 yards against Landrum, then had 12 more carries against East Henderson. But the final of those 12, a sweep around left end, ended with Wheeler being dragged down out of bounds by a horse-collar tackle that caused the senior to yell in pain as he knee strained beneath him.

Wheeler got back up and insisted on staying in the game, though he played just one more play. A few days later, walking to practice, Wheeler stepped off a curb and felt a new twinge in the knee.

It would be the final blow.

“In the East game, I couldn’t feel anything (after the tackle), and I thought it would be all right for a few more plays,” Wheeler said. “Over the weekend it got progressively worse. I was coming to practice and I got to a step, and when I stepped off the side, something popped.

“I went back to the doctor and he said if you want to walk into your 40s, you’ll stop playing and get this fixed. I had started messing up the meniscus and the MCL had torn more.”

And that was that – Wheeler’s Polk County athletic career had come to an end. He’ll have surgery this week and faces a lengthy rehab process – it will be six months before Wheeler can consider doing any type of physical activity.

But the two games he did get in with a knee and a half? Completely worth it, Wheeler said.

“When you’ve done something for 13 years and it comes to a screeching halt, you have to think twice about it,” Wheeler said.

“I wouldn’t take back anything. There’s no better feeling than to be out there with the guys we’ve got on this team. It’s a feeling I’m never going to get to feel again.”

– article submitted by