This was supposed to be the season Walter Haire helped turn around the North Central football program. Instead, the senior defensive end attended Friday’s home game against Warren Central in a wheelchair, wearing his No. 5 jersey and a ball cap.
Sports can be cruel, sometimes.
Haire suffered a broken fibula in his left leg in the third quarter of North Central’s season-opening 28-21 loss to Fishers. The 6-3, 235-pound Bowling Green commit will miss the entirety of his senior football season.
“When the doctor first told me, it was pretty tough,” Haire said. “It was tough to see the team practice without me. But I’m going to do what I can. I’m going to break down film with them and still be around the team.”
Haire said the recovery process is expected to take about three months, which would allow him to return for wrestling season. Haire qualified for the state meet last year at the 220-pound class.
The play in which Haire suffered the injury was nothing out of the ordinary.
“It was a regular run play,” he said. “I was pursuing the play and hit the ball carrier and my teammate sort of rolled on top of me and my leg. I felt it right away.”
North Central, which came into the year coming off back-to-back winless seasons, was competitive in the loss to Fishers. Without Haire, the Panthers have dropped games to Hamilton Southeastern (31-7) and Warren Central (45-3) to fall to 0-3. North Central is at Lawrence North this week.
It was a disheartening experience for Haire, who had anticipated a big season for his team and personally. But since the initial prognosis, he has taken an upbeat outlook.
“The team was pretty hyped to see me (Friday),” he said. “I think they’re ready to help me along the journey. It’s a minor setback.”
• Andries puts up big numbers: Beech Grove senior Chase Andries accounted for five touchdown passes in a 68-42 win over Speedway on Friday. Andries is completing 66 percent of his passes for 677 yards and 11 touchdowns (with one interception) in three games this season for the Hornets (3-0). He also has accounted for 283 yards rushing and two TDs. Beech Grove, ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, will play 2A No. 5 Scecina (3-0) on Friday at the University of Indianapolis.
• More big games: Beech Grove-Scecina is just one of several big games on Friday’s schedule. Center Grove (2-1) at Ben Davis (3-0), Lawrence Central (3-0) at Warren Central (3-0), Fishers (2-1) at Hamilton Southeastern (2-1), Avon (2-1) at Brownsburg (3-0) and Roncalli (3-0) at Plainfield (2-1) highlight a week of quality matchups in the area.
• More on Westfield: Coming off a dominating 48-8 win over Zionsville on Friday, the Class 5A fourth-ranked Shamrocks will play at Noblesville this week. The Millers (1-2) are coming off a 28-21 win at 6A eighth-ranked Fishers in Jason Simmons’ first win as Noblesville coach.
Westfield senior quarterback Andrew Sweet banged his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the second half of Friday’s win and left the game briefly. Sweet returned, but his touches were limited as the Shamrocks burned clock with a big lead. He finished 6-for-6 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown and rushed six times for 86 yards.
“We were being a little cautious maybe,” Westfield coach Jake Gilbert said. “Down the stretch we really tried not to run him so much just to protect him and also run clock. That was a lot of it, but he’ll be fine.”
Sweet is 18-for-33 for 342 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions this season.
• Roncalli QB: Roncalli senior quarterback Derek O’Connor has been a major part of the team’s first 3-0 start since the 2004 season. In wins over Southport, Franklin Central and Bishop Chatard, O’Connor has led an offense that has not committed a turnover. He is 33-for-45 passing for 432 yards and three touchdowns and has rushed for 67 yards and a score. He also caught the game-winning pass in the win over Chatard.
• Friday reaction: There were a few scores that caught my eye Friday night. Avon’s 31-28 win over Hamilton Southeastern was one as the Orioles showed some resolve after a lopsided loss the week before to Ben Davis. … Cascade coach Steve Spinks, a former Ben Davis assistant, notched his first career win as the Cadets defeated Brown County 21-6. … The ugliest result was Charlestown’s 92-6 win over Clarksville. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Charlestown led 46-0 at the end of the first quarter and 72-0 at halftime. Clarksville scored 20 points in an 0-10 season last year, including a 54-0 loss to Charlestown in a game called at halftime by lightning.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.