During the second game of the season, Free State senior receiver Tanner Cobb thought he tweaked his ankle when he tried to take a hop-step during the first quarter.
Cobb fell to the ground in pain, but considered his ankle “fine” when he walked around. When he tried to run, that’s when the pain was too much. In the days afterward, he was sitting in his doctor’s office when he learned that he had a broken fibula.
Immediately, Cobb thought his season was over.
“This was my first injury in all my life so it was pretty scary,” Cobb said. “It was like, ‘Why this time?’
“It crushed my dreams right there.”
But the injury wasn’t as bad as he feared. When Cobb was being fitted for his cast, his doctor explained that it was a “clean cut” and he’d have a chance to return before the end of the season.
About two weeks ago, in the City Showdown against Lawrence High, Cobb was back in uniform and returned to his usual spot at receiver.
“It felt crazy,” Cobb said. “I had so much adrenaline inside of me.”
One of the school’s top 100-meter dash runners on the track team, Cobb was targeted on one pass play against Lawrence. He couldn’t reel in the catch, but he was thrilled to be involved in the offense again after watching for several weeks on the sideline.
Even if Cobb isn’t catching passes, he makes Free State’s offense better through his experience and leadership on the field.
“He’s a threat, first of all, just because of his speed,” Free State coach Bob Lisher said of Cobb. “Second of all, he’s a very good blocker. He does a great job for us blocking at the receiver spot, which we missed a little bit of. With him stepping in there, it’s really improved our perimeter game.”
Cobb, a three-year varsity player, said it was tough to sit out of practices and not suit up for games. When he was finally cleared to play — he wears a brace around his left ankle — he walked around to his teammates saying, “I’m back.”
Once he returned to practice, he said it was easy to work his way back into shape. Lisher said the team was always hopeful that he could return once everyone heard it was a broken bone.
“I wanted to be back as quick as possible,” Cobb said. “It’s my last season.”
The Firebirds (9-0) will face Junction City (5-3) in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs at 7 tonight. Junction City has won five of its last six games.
FSHS probable starters
LT — Turner Corcoran, so.
LG — Gabe Clark, sr.
C — Nathan Spain, sr.
RG — Shane Skwarlo, jr.
RT — Jalan Robinson, sr.
QB — Gage Foster, sr.
RB — Jax Dineen, jr.
H — L.J. Mack, jr.
WR — Tanner Cobb, sr.
WR — Jake Rittman, sr.
TE — Jack Theisen, sr.
K — Kameron Lake, jr.
P — Jake Rittman, sr.
DT — Lovette Epelle, so.
NT — Nathan Spain, sr.
DT — Spencer Roe, sr.
OLB — Bo Miller, sr.
ILB — David Johnson, sr.
ILB — Jalen Nash, jr.
OLB — Gage Foster, sr.
CB — Kwinton Lassiter, sr.
CB — Gabe del Valle, sr.
S — Malik Berry, so.
S — Keenan Garber, jr.