The season and probably the football career of Vilonia’s Houston Cotton ended with a sickening collision on the turf at Wynne on Friday night.
On a draw play, the star running back and track star took a solid hit by a Wynne noseguard. Cotton had planted his left leg. His body twisted on impact while his leg didn’t move.
You get the picture. Wince now.
Observers knew it was bad when Vilonia coach Jim Stanley, who hardly ever runs onto the field, quickly ran onto the field.
Cotton now faces his third surgery in a week.
What got everyone’s attention was surgery No. 1 was vascular surgery, about eight hours of it.
Initially, he had no pulse in his left foot.
He was airlifted to a Memphis hospital, where he faced emergency surgery, It was tedious repair, which meant taking out part of a vein in the right leg and transferring it to the left. If the procedure were not done and quickly, he faced the possibility of losing his left leg.
Sonny Cotton, Houston’s father, said his son had a torn ACL, patella and miniscus (about everything you can tear in a knee) and those injuries damaged an artery (and consequently the blood flow) in the lower part of his leg. The vascular system had to be reconstructed.
That was Friday night.
The next day, Cotton went through a two-hour surgery in which pins were placed in his leg for stability and further repair. The incisions were left open to decrease swelling and allow the leg to breathe.
Saturday, he will have a third surgery within a week to close the incisions, thus accelerating the rehabilitation process.
“The doctors here told us that this was one of the worst trauma injuries you can have,” said Sonny Cotton, who has been at his son’s side in Memphis.
But the prognosis is good. Cotton will later have to have knee surgery and possible nerve damage will have to be evaluated.
“He’s alert and positive right now,” said Houston’s father. “We’re trying not to look too far ahead. We’re taking it one day at a time. But there is no reason to believe he will not eventually make a full recovery.”
His father said Houston is determined to be on the sideline for Vilonia’s next home game — against Shiloh Christian on Oct. 4.
He said Houston has “been overwhelmed” by the prayers and support of friends, the Vilonia community and everyone who has heard about the injury.
“He thanks everyone for the support,” said his father. “The community has been great, In fact, right now, he’s writing thank-you cards.”
Sometimes the character of an individual is exemplified, not by gaudy statistics, but how he reacts to adversity and challenges.
We present Houston Cotton as a prime example.
His football career is over. A good life and career is still ahead of him.
He should walk away from this on two legs with his head held high.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dmaclcd.com)