Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Early injuries force adopting new game plans at Lovejoy, Garland, Bowie
One injured starter is sometimes all it takes to change the shape of a football game.
Three weeks into the 2013 season, Garland coach Jeff Jordan might settle for just one injured starter.
“I’ve been coaching 27 years and never seen anything like this,” Jordan said. “It’s been a crazy first three weeks.”
Garland had 14 injured starters by the end of its 51-9 loss to McKinney Boyd on Sept. 12. That’s 14 positions manned by a backup or a backup’s backup.
And in the case of the secondary, Garland has been using starting wideouts Jalen Evans and Devonte Hayden, as well as backup quarterback Bryce Wager to plug the holes.
Desperate times, right?
“Some kids have gotten chances that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” Jordan said. “But when you’re playing good teams like Mesquite Horn and McKinney Boyd, that’s not really the best place to go out and get experience.”
Garland (0-3) is also without starting quarterback V.J. Gates, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a preseason scrimmage. Gates, who threw for nearly 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, is one of three starters who will be out for the season.
The loss of a starting quarterback has hit several area teams.
Flower Mound Marcus quarterback Cole Erwin and Arlington Bowie’s Keaton Perry suffered season-ending knee injuries during Week 1 games.
Lovejoy sophomore quarterback Bowman Sells went down with an arm injury after scrambling for a touchdown pass late in the first half against Forney.
Sells sat out of Lovejoy’s 49-36 loss to Frisco last weekend – the program’s first regular season defeat since Oct. 7, 2011.
“Losing Bowman is a leadership issue,” Lovejoy coach Matt Green said. “He’s been in 12-to-15 ballgames as a starter, so anytime you lose someone with that much experience you’re going to feel the effect.”
Green labeled Sells as “questionable” for Lovejoy’s Sept. 27 district opener at Wylie.
His absence affected other areas on the field more than it did the quarterback spot, which was capably filled by Dakota Michaels.
Michaels, also a sophomore, threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a regular at safety and special teams, though, and those areas were exposed without him.
The Lovejoy defense allowed 35 points in the first half against Frisco.
“You have to look at the whole picture,” Green said. “We took him out of the defensive rotation and off the special teams units, and it hurt a lot of the roles Dakota had been playing. But it was also something good for our football team to experience.”
Green said Lovejoy is banged up on defense, too, but he declined to elaborate on the nature of the injuries or the players who might miss time.
Lovejoy has the benefit of a bye this weekend to recoup, but Garland will host No. 6 Coppell at 7 p.m. Thursday.
At times likes these, Jordan said his program can lean on its tradition to help cope. Garland has won 16 consecutive district games and has won the district title in four of the last five seasons.
“Last year we started 0-4 and ran the table in district,” Jordan said. “A lot of these kids went through that, so they’re not panicking right now. They believe we can turn this around.”
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN.