Roy Marsh was hurting.
In the opening game of the season, Perry Hall's star running back was playing on a sprained left ankle and had struggled for 1 first-half yard on four carries against Frederick.
With the Gators trailing, 14-0, before a home crowd, something had to be done.
"At halftime, I talked to my dad," said Marsh, "and he asked, 'Do you think you can play anymore on that ankle?'
"That's when I just said: 'Forget it. I'm not going to worry about it.'"
Marsh went on to rush for 123 yards on 12 carries and score a touchdown to help lead Perry Hall to a 22-20 victory.
"I realized I just had to do it and not worry about the ankle."
Marsh, 5 feet 8, 170 pounds, just has done it since joining the varsity as a sophomore. During that time, the Gators have gone 19-4. With 4.3 speed in the 40-yard --, Marsh rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season and is drawing attention from Nebraska, Penn State and Colorado.
Still, Marsh said: "I never think of myself as a sports star. I don't act like I'm super special or anything. I'm not a real loud person, and I just try to keep quiet and perform for the team."
The senior has helped not only the football team, but also the baseball team, where the center fielder hit .436 in leading Perry Hall to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Class 4A championship last season. Marsh also has won the state 55-meter indoor track championship and placed second in the 300.
In his first two years of varsity football, Marsh, also a defensive back, sacrificed numbers to fit in with the team, his coach said.
"Roy's numbers don't compare to [Randallstown's Larry] Washington's or [Wilde Lake's Raphael] Wall's, because our offense the past couple of years spread the ball around," said Perry Hall coach Joe Stoy. "Roy's never complained about that. If he only gets 80 yards one week, and we win the game, it doesn't matter to him. If he gets 150 yards, he's not flamboyant about it, either."
Stoy said the Gators offense hasn't gotten on track this season because of Marsh's injury. But, as the running back continues his first full week of practice on a now-strong ankle, the coach seems confident that his offense is ready to shift into high gear.
With sprinter's speed, a low center of gravity and a knack for finding the hole, Marsh has the potential to break away on every carry -- sort of like his football idol, the Detroit Lions' Barry Sanders, another 5-8 running back.
"I see a little of myself in him," said Marsh. "He's an incredible runner who does some unbelievable things. He's so incredibly quick. When you're 5-8, not everyone's going to see you."
Once he's broken through the line, all defenders usually see is a trail of dust. Marsh said he never has been caught from behind on a breakaway.
"You feel really confident when you know if you get two steps on a guy, that nobody's going to catch you," said Marsh, who has played football only since moving to Perry Hall from Cincinnati four years ago. "If you have speed, it's an easy game to pick up."
An easy game, but not the only game.
Marsh seems intent on playing baseball in college, although he won't make a hasty decision.
"Since I've played baseball the longest, I guess baseball has the edge," said Marsh, who's drawn attention from at least five major-league teams. "But, hey, if a college allows it, I'll play both."