The return jitters are out of the way. Now Brian Seymour can just focus on playing football.
When the Lawrence High senior suited for last Friday's game against Shawnee Mission East, it was his first appearance since straining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the Lions' opener against Leavenworth. The three-year starter had been going crazy on the sidelines for four weeks, so when he finally saw some action a few on-field mistakes could be excused.
Except if you asked him.
"Yeah, I was excited to play again, but I need to be smarter than that," he said.
Seymour committed two major penalties in the Lions' 21-7 win against the Lancers. A 57-yard Brandon McAnderson touchdown was wiped out when Seymour was called for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter, and a holding call in the fourth wiped out a 38-yard McAnderson score.
"I love contact, and I think being out five weeks I was just looking to hit somebody," he said.
Chalk those up to some overeagerness and rust on Seymour's part.
But don't expect them again.
Seymour has been starting on defense since he was a sophomore. He's bright, football savvy and one of the Lions' on-field leaders because of his heads-up plays. He's polite, friendly and has all the skills a coach wants in a football player. So to see him make bonehead types of plays again would be mindboggling.
Even with those penalties, LHS coach Dirk Wedd knows Seymour is much too valuable to worry about him showing some rust.
"Brian Seymour is such an important part of our team, just having him back is such a huge plus," Wedd said. "He only goes one speed, and that's 100 miles an hour."
Seymour adds depth to the Lions' linebacking core, and gives them another body in the offensive backfield. With his speed Â about the only guy who's faster than Seymour is running back Chris Fulton, an all-state sprinter Â Seymour makes LHS better. With district play starting on Friday, his return comes at the right time.
The last five weeks had been excruciating. Seymour was stuck in a stiff knee brace, getting electric stem treatments (which increase blood flow to the ligament) and icing his knee at every opportunity. He started physical therapy, four days a week, two weeks after his injury. You could see him hobbling around practice, playing the role of player/coach, telling the younger players what assignments they had and offering encouragement at every chance.
He could deal with all that. Not playing was killing him.
"Sitting out five weeks of your senior season, it's not much fun," he said. "I learned to not take anything for granted."
He was limited to 25 plays against SM East, but he'll likely play on nearly every defensive down this week against Topeka Washburn Rural.
He can't wait.
"I think it's real important to play a game before districts," Seymour said. "Just because I knocked out all the cobwebs, so to speak. Now, I know I can go full speed and not have any problems with my knee."
That's bad news for Rural, good news for LHS and even better news for Seymour.
A multi-sport athlete who excels in track as well, Seymour hopes to play football in college. By missing half of his senior season, the number of game tapes he can send to coaches has been diminished, but knowing what kind of play-maker he is, he'll make up for lost time in a hurry.
Like this Friday.