Lufkin is looking to continue their run through the playoffs by knocking off #3 Spring Westfiled in the Regional-Semifinals of the state playoffs on Saturday.
When they take the field, they will be missing a dual threat. In the first quarter of their area-round game against Richardson Pearce, Breylon Garcia, who plays on both offense and defense, went down with a leg injury. The moment he hit the ground, the crowd in Corsicana knew it was bad. Garcia would require surgery on a broken tibia. The break happened on a play that was no unusual for Garcia.
"I had run it so many times," Garcia said. "It was a back shoulder fade. I planted my left foot so I could turn around. I turned around and it just gave out and snapped."
Not feeling any pain Garcia tried to get up after the failed pass attempt but he could not move.
" I didn't know it was broke until I tried to get up," Garcia said. "I just saw it laying there. I was in shock."
Garcia left the game in an ambulance and made his was back to Lufkin for surgery.On his was out on a stretcher, Garcia waived to the fans and was surrounded by his team mates who looked to give them their support.
"I told my mom that I needed to listen to the game, so she downloaded the app for the radio station and I listened to the rest of the game."
As Garcia listened through the phone, his team was getting into a new mindset and looking to rebound from a first quarter full of mistakes and penalties.
"Seeing something like that is a little scary," linebacker Jackson Treadwell said . "You have a different outlook on the game. That could happen to anybody. Seeing that happen, you just have to go as hard as you can."
Running back Isaiah Phillips knew what the game meant to Garcia and felt sick at what happened. To him and the rest of the 80 plus panthers, Garcia is not just a number on the field. He is a brother.
Immediately following the injury, Lufkin would force Pearce to punt the ball. It was followed by quarterback Kewone Thomas and Phillips leading the team down the field. The drive ended with a nine-yard touchdown run by Phillips.
The Panther defense also stepped up and dominated the Mustangs in the second half. Lufkin pulled away and won 35-18.
"When he went down, it was like our family going down," Phillips said. "It felt like we had to win for him."
The victory was not surprising to coach Todd Quick.
"Garcia is a leader because of how he has come in and worked out and handled his business," Quick said. "I don't think his injury gave his brothers a reason to play harder. I think it refocused them because they knew how fragile it can be and it could of been them out there."
The team is now focusing on Westfield who has dominated teams all year. While the players are working out, Garcia sits at his grandfathers apartment thinking about what could have been.
"It's hard not being out there," Garcia said. "I want to be there but I know they can handle their business."
Garcia is not sure how but he knows he will be at the game on Saturday against Westfield. He will not be missing anymore games despite not being able to walk out on the field.
"They have to win that game," Garcia said. "I have been telling my teammates that they have to win and are going all the way. You have to prove everybody wrong. A lot of people are doubting us right now but I think we are going to upset some people."
Garcia is only a junior and expects to be back in the weight room in just a matter of weeks to start his road to a comeback. He also played on the basketball team but will not suit out this year. His focus is all on coming back stronger next year.
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