May 15, 2008
By carlo mollicone, Clarkston, MI

I was lying on the couch in the living room of my home, exhausted from a long day of practice, when I received an unknown phone call from the defensive coordinator for the University of Miami. “This is Coach Brady from the University of Miami, and I’m looking for a Ricardo Primo.” He said. He asked me so many questions like: “What are your grades like? What do you plan to study in college? How is your high school football team‘s season going?” I soon became all nervous and excited that I didn’t know how to answer half of his questions. We agreed to set up an official visit and decided that I would keep in touch throughout the season.
I walked into the locker room after a long week of hard hitting practices where I saw a banner hanging; it read “Kill the Cowboys!” Because the upcoming week was our first game of the season against a cross-town rival, the Cooper City Cowboys. I was anxious for my senior year debut, but I wasn’t going to let all of the hype get to my head we were ready and feeling confident. “Stay Focused boys, come out cocky and confident. Let’s just do our job and come out with a victory.” Coach Perez preached “this is our house and nobody comes here and takes that away from us!” the team erupted with a roar as those words rolled off his tongue. Finally Friday night arrived, and the stadium was packed with students, spectators and scouts, I was having a phenomenal performance by single-handedly stopping the opposing offense. “Can’t stop this” I said, taunting the other team, as I earned another tackle. It was late in the fourth quarter, and the Broncos had a comfortable lead. I was just about to come off the field to get a break from one of the other players, but the coach decided to give me just one more down “Make it count.” He said.
“Yes Coach!” I replied as I jogged back on to the field. I wanted to go all out so as soon as the ball was snapped I took off like a lion chasing down its prey. “SWEEP!” I screamed as the ball carrier ran to my side. My mouth began to water because I knew I was about to destroy the running back. I was in full speed, about to strike, when all of the sudden, BOOM I was blind sided by a 300 lb. lineman right at my knees. “Looks like I just did stop you b****.” The kid said as I laid on the ground in shock. I felt my body going cold and my legs going numb.
“Do something Ref, he can’t do that.” I could hear my teammates arguing as they confronted the other team’s players, considering the hit was completely illegal. I lied on the field with my parents and trainers, they kept telling me “Everything is gonna be okay, just relax” and I could do nothing but stare at the stadium lights as the paramedics took me off in a stretcher.
I arrived at the hospital and received an x-ray of my leg immediately. “Is it broken?” I asked the doctor, “When will I be able to play again?” He responded “Son, I think football should be the last thing on your mind.” My heart sank when I heard these words come out of his mouth. “It seems you have torn your MCL and your ACL in your right knee and we’re going to have to go into surgery.” I didn’t know how to react. I was angry because football was my life and without it I wouldn’t have anything. Fortunately I had my two best friends by my side, Sheff and Juan. “Yo, keep your head up,” They kept telling me “you need to stay strong, cause it’s up to you if you want to recover from this.” “Rico, the good news is that the surgery was a success,” the doctor announced “but the bad news is that your going to have to go through several weeks of physical therapy before you’ll be able to run or participate in any physical contact.”
“If you’re trying to tell me that my football career is basically over than I refuse to believe that.” I told him “I will do whatever it takes to get back on that field one more time, I promise.”
The first couple of weeks were hell for me. I hated being helped or having to depend on others to do simple tasks like walking up stairs or passing through doors. I tried my best not to let it bother me, but every now and then it would get to me and I would begin to doubt myself. “Why are you doing this to yourself Rico?” my coach told me “You’re only going to make your injury worse, why don’t you just give up?” I couldn’t believe some of my own teammates would even feel this way towards me, but I knew who my true friends were and who I was and that I would prove them all wrong. I finished my sixth week at physical therapy and there was only one month left until the season, and my doctor had given me the okay to begin practicing. No body could believe it.
The Broncos won the rest of their games and had advanced to the championship game. The day before the game the coaches got the team together for a team meeting “We would like to take this time to apologize to Ricardo Primo,” they began “we should have been encouraging him and helping him through his recovery, and we didn’t”. In return the team agreed to have me start at inside linebacker in the championship game. I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. The next day as the team warmed up on the field before the game, I was full of so much adrenaline and energy that I could barely even talk. There were thousands of fans there, and they all witnessed me in action as I gave the most excellent performance of my career.
There were four minutes and twenty seconds left on the clock when the coach decided to take me out of the game. My knee had gone through enough and it was in my best interest to retire. As I walked off the field, the crowd stood and applauded me for all the courage that I had shown, and I could barely hold back the tears. I never received another college football offer after the championship game, and I realized that my football career had indeed come to an end, but I accomplished a very important goal and will always have my state championship trophy as a reminder of those Friday night lights.

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