BOONVILLE - As the Starmount Rams prepare to face their stiffest challenge of the season, they will have to do so without one of their leaders.
Senior quarterback Christian Hurt was knocked out of last Friday’s 21-13 opening-round victory over East Lincoln after a hit that gave him an apparent head or neck injury.
After lying on the field for several minutes, Hurt was helped to the sidelines, where he was checked out by trainers before heading to the locker room. Head coach Scott Johnson was optimistic on his condition after the game.
“Christian is being checked out - it’s precautionary. Anytime you get hit near your neck, you’re going to go to the hospital,” Johnson said following the game. “I can’t make a prediction if he’s going to play next week, but we sure hope so.”
Hurt’s injury is far more severe than originally expected.
The senior signal-caller broke a vertebrae in his neck on the hit and underwent surgery Saturday. He is out for the season and will be in a neck halo for up to three months, according to Starmount statistician Deana King.
Hurt’s absence will leave a gaping hole in the Startmount offense as they head into the second-round of the 2A playoffs against defending state champion Salisbury Friday night.
Hurt is the team’s third leading rusher with 706 yards on the ground and seven scores behind junior Chaston Martin (971, 18 TDs) and senior Fondae McDaniel (720 yds, 10 TDs), who will need to pick up the slack.
Backup quarterback Samuel Stone will be thrust into the starting role to replace Hurt.
Stone, who came into the game following Hurt’s exit in the fourth quarter against East Lincoln, managed to find the endzone on a one-yard touchdown run for his first score of the year.
The junior has rushed eight times this season for negative three yards on the ground, while attempting three throws and no completions in very limited action this year.
Hurt’s absence will be felt on the defensive side of the ball as well.
As a starting defensive back for the Rams, Hurt was key in limiting Wilkes Central and East Lincoln’s powerful offenses in consecutive weeks.
His replacement will need to come up big if they hope to shut down Salisbury’s high-flying rushing attack this week and advance into the third round of the playoffs.
The loss of their starting quarterback and leader is a big blow for the Rams, but it does not necessarily cripple their title hopes.