Written by Brandon George
Molina High quarterback Diondre Preston suffers severe spinal-cord injury
Just a week ago, Diondre Preston was named Molina High School's homecoming king and had everything going for him as the football team's starting quarterback and a highly sought-after recruit.
In a flash Thursday night, Preston's life changed dramatically when the senior suffered a severe spinal-cord injury in a helmet-to-helmet hit that left him motionless.
Molina football coach Charles DeVille said Preston, 17, has experienced no feeling or movement from the neck down since the injury.
Preston was stabilized on the Sprague Stadium field after the injury late in the fourth quarter of Molina's 45-38 loss to Pinkston. Within minutes, Preston was rushed to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, with his mother riding in the ambulance with him. Preston remains in the intensive care unit at Baylor after undergoing surgery Friday afternoon.
"The surgery was done to relieve pressure and find out what kind of damage we're looking at and to see what the next step will be," said DeVille, who had already visited Preston four times in the hospital by Friday afternoon. "More than two vertebrae are damaged, but we won't know for a few days the extent of the injury, and he'll be in ICU for a while."
Severe spinal-cord injuries are becoming all too common in North Texas.
On Oct. 1, 2009 - almost a year ago to the day of Preston's injury - another DISD football player was severely injured. Pinkston freshman safety Jared Williams was paralyzed from the chest down after he was hit in the neck by a North Dallas player's helmet on a tackle attempt at Pleasant Grove Stadium.
In May 2009, DeSoto football player Corey Borner was paralyzed from the neck down after suffering an injury during a spring practice.
Williams and his mother were among Preston's first visitors Friday morning at Baylor.
"If I can go through it and come out of my surgery moving my arms, he can come out of his surgery doing even better," Williams told WFAA-TV (Channel 8).
Dallas Independent School District counselors were at Molina on Friday to speak with students and football players.
"From our coaching staff to our athletes and students, it's been a very hard day on all of us," DeVille said. "This is the fear of every coach. You don't want this to ever happen. He is the heart of my team and that son every father wants, just a great kid with a great personality who wasn't cocky and loved to play football."
Preston, also Molina's starting free safety, was playing quarterback when he was injured Thursday. He was leading Molina down the field on a final drive, with the Jaguars trailing Pinkston by a touchdown with about two minutes left in the game.
On a running play to the left side, Preston was trying to make his way into the end zone when a Pinkston player clipped Preston's foot, causing him to fall forward. Another Pinkston player came in low to make the tackle and hit Preston's helmet with his own.
"It was across the field from me, and when I saw the contact, I knew it was a good lick," DeVille said, "and when I saw him go down, my thought was, 'I hope he's unconscious.' "
The 6-2, 205-pound athlete had elite speed and was a top recruit. Preston was receiving attention from several major college programs, DeVille said, with about 30 recruiting letters pouring in each week.
Preston was the seventh-leading rusher among Class 4A area players heading into Friday night's games, with 596 yards and nine touchdowns on 68 carries. He had also passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns in five games for Molina.
"You're talking about one of the best athletes in the district and in the city," DeVille said. "The school, the faculty and student body are in complete shock."