“’Tis misfortune that awakens ingenuity, or fortitude, or endurance, in hearts where these qualities had never come to life but for the circumstance which gave them a being.” — William Makepeace Thackeray, “The History of Henry Esmond”
Lumbering around the Harker Heights sideline on crutches that barely supported his 6-foot-5, 320-pound frame, Darius James looked more like a disappointed child than the monster of a man he was on the field just an hour before.
There he was, having just watched as his teammates lose their season opener 18-3 to Round Rock Stony Point, and James was helpless.
James, who is already physically more comparable to some NFL linemen than the high schoolers he’s competing against, had surgery Wednesday after suffering a broken left foot on the final play of the first half Aug. 30 following one of his 2½ sacks.
Unfortunately, this injury could signal the end of James’ career at Harker Heights, as well as what could be another in a long line of unfulfilling seasons for the Knights football program.
But like many around the team, the Knights coaches are crossing their fingers and praying that’s not the case.
Not being able to watch James sprinting after quarterbacks or pummeling a defender would truly rob the community of one of the most physically-gifted players to ever come out of this area.
James should play on Sundays in about four years. But James’ future NFL prospects are no relief for those left to fend for themselves for another six to eight weeks. Thankfully, that window still allows a sliver of hope.
If Heights is going to avoid falling out of contention long enough to let James heal, it’s going to take a concerted team effort, and a whole lot of answered prayers.
Key among those will be the healthy return of junior tailback Marcus Anderson II, who coaches described as the complete package before he broke a bone in his left leg in the team’s final scrimmage.
Knights coaches are hopeful that Anderson can return by the start of District 8-5A play with a Week 4 matchup against Belton. And if Anderson can provide a noticeable improvement to what is an almost entirely inexperienced offense, then maybe Heights has a shot.
Of course, maybe all the Knights players need is something to go their way for once.
Heights’ players need to realize their time under those Friday night lights is fleeting, and all it takes is some unforeseen event to stomp it out for good.
James’ future on the gridiron is already painted in burnt orange. Hopefully, his days in red and black aren’t spent huddled helplessly on the sidelines.