Carson Steele expected big things going into his junior football season at Center Grove. Any why not? In his first two varsity seasons, Steele had racked up nearly 4,000 rushing yards and 49 rushing touchdowns.
A pulled hamstring in his right leg kept the 6-2, 210-pound Steele from starting the season opener against Warren Central. He watched from the sidelines in a jersey and shorts as the Trojans dropped a 21-14 decision. Steele expected to be out five, maybe six weeks. A setback for sure, but not the end of the world.
“It was a mild strain, but I was trying to get back early coming into the season and kept tweaking it,” Steele said. “The bad thing was I was trying to get back early. I should have waited.”
Steele did expect to return the for the homecoming game against Pike on Oct. 4. But during the week, he said he jumped for a pass and came down awkwardly. The result: A broken left ankle.
“I was almost full-go,” Steele said. “And then that happened.”
The ankle injury has officially shelved Steele for the rest of the season. A complete wash of a junior year. Center Grove, a year removed from a nine-win season and Class 6A semistate appearance, is 4-5 going into sectional play on Friday.
Steele, the centerpiece of the Center Grove offense for two years, has felt helpless this season.
“You know, it’s rough,” Steele said. “Coming out and having all of these great things happen as a freshman and sophomore and then to have this as a junior, it takes a toll. It shows how I took things for granted. It’s hard to watch the guys play without me. I feel like sometimes they are lacking a leader and that hurts me as a leader.”
While there is no possibility he could return this season, Steele said his ankle rehabilitation is on track and he intends to compete in track in the spring. He is excited about next year’s team as well, with several key players returning.