Wethington's leg fracture leaves him, Scorpions pondering future

September 13, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Justin Wethington had his final high school football season planned out.

He would wind up his fourth varsity season by leading the Oakland Mills Scorpions to the Class 2A playoffs.

Then, he would field scholarship offers from numerous fine football colleges, before making one of the more exciting decisions of his life.

Wethington's scenario did not include a disruptive injury. After all, he had never suffered a serious, football-related ailment.

Today, however, those are the cards Wethington has been dealt.

After suffering a lower leg fracture in practice last week, the Scorpions' co-captain and top player may miss the remainder of the season.

"I was looking forward to playing all the games, and I was hoping to go to states [playoffs]," said Wethington, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound offensive tackle/linebacker.

"I'm also trying to prove myself, to get some deserved attention. I had plenty of schools coming after me. I don't know what to expect now."

Wethington could return to action before the end of the season.

He will wear a cast for the next four to five weeks before a decision on his comeback timetable is made.

The loss of Wethington is a major blow to the Scorpions.

One of the younger Oakland Mills teams of the past decade, the Scorpions were counting heavily on Wethington's leadership, not mention his talent at two positions. An All-County linebacker last year, he was coming off a solid defensive game in the Scorpions' season-opening, 22-2 defeat at North County last week.

Wethington, who went down during a tackling drill at practice, thinks he may have injured his leg during the third quarter of the North County game.

The Scorpions had the ball and had called a running play.

"I was going to block a linebacker, and someone ran into the side of my leg," Wethington said. "It hurt at first, but the pain went away. It didn't hurt that badly on Sunday. I thought it was just a muscle strain."

Wethington's injury comes at the worst time for Oakland Mills, which is saddled with a tough early season schedule.

Yesterday the Scorpions played defending 3A champion Linganore. This week, they take on Thomas Johnson, another Frederick County power. In three weeks they face Wilde Lake.

In addition to Wethington, running back Matt Silver, Oakland Mills' other co-captain, is nursing a broken hand he suffered in a preseason scrimmage. He may return in two weeks.

"It just doesn't pay to be a captain," said Oakland Mills assistant coach Ken Hovet. "Losing Justin is the most devastating thing for us. He's a good kid, extremely hard-working. He's our leader, a spiritual-type of leader. And he was primed that this was going to be his year."

Wethington is a football rarity. Because his fast growth made him too heavy to play recreational football, he could not play until high school. But upon entering Oakland Mills in 1989, he immediately assumed a starting offensive line position on the varsity. He has been a two-way starter since his sophomore season.

He is being recruited by some notable schools, including Duke, West Virginia, Northwestern and Maryland.

"I don't know what this does to his recruiting," said Oakland Mills head coach Ken Klock. "Obviously, there isn't going to be any film to use, at least early in the season. Justin is certainly our only Division I player, perhaps the only Division I player in the county.

"Even if he makes it back this year, he'll have to overcome atrophy in his leg quickly," Klock added.

"That's a lot to overcome. But if anybody can do it, he can."

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