By Joanna Chadwick
Clearwater junior Tanner Cash played a game and a half of football with a broken tibia and torn MCL in his left leg.
That’s six quarters with a broken leg and a torn ligament.
“I got hurt Week 2 against Mulvane, but I didn’t tell anyone that my knee was hurting,” Cash said. “I played a whole week, beat Wellington. It really hurt, so I told my parents and the trainer. They told me I had to get it looked at.”
The injury came on a simple run play when he was hit from the left side as he was running to the right sideline.
Initially he thought he was out for the season. Then his doctor told him six weeks.
“I wasn’t going to let this define my season,” Cash said. “I wanted to rehab it and get out there as soon as I could.”
Cash missed three games, although he played one drive against Trinity Academy in Week 6.
In the first round of the playoffs last week, Cash led Clearwater to the 35-28 win over Hesston to improve to 7-2. It was Clearwater’s first playoff win in five seasons.
“That was a really big deal for our team and the community as a whole,” Cash said. “Everyone was so excited. That was a really big thing for us this season.”
Clearwater plays Andale on Friday. Andale beat Clearwater 50-12 in Week 7.
Cash has played a huge role in Clearwater’s success. He has completed 77 of 148 passes for 1,153 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.
“I was at the field almost every day this summer,” Cash said. “Me and our running back or me and the wide receivers. We worked on the passing game every day. We opened up the field a lot. I threw the ball a tremendous amount.”
His receivers have benefited from the time.
Senior Drake Beatty has 33 catches for 575 yards and six touchdowns, while junior Lane Pierce has 31 catches for 407 yards and four touchdowns.
“Lane Pierce, me and him have been best buds since third grade,” Cash said. “We’ve always grown up together, and I’m always getting him the ball. He’s probably my favorite guy to throw to.
“And then there’s Drake Beatty. He’s a tremendous player, great athlete. He goes up and gets balls. He’s so easy to throw to. A very gifted receiver.”
Cash also has 825 rushing yards on 149 attempts for six touchdowns.
He has speed and he throws well, but he’s also highly competitive, according to coach Jeremy Scheufler.
Yet Cash gives Scheufler most of the credit.
“He’s turned this program around,” Cash said. “He’s been a big addition to the school, community and team. He gives everyone an energy boost. He makes them work really hard.
“It means so much that we’re having success this year. For the community, our student section — everyone is more involved than in the past. It’s really good to finally feel like people appreciate what we do out there.”