ON A MIS­SION

Stan­cav­age over­comes in­juries to lead North­west into Dis­trict 2 post­sea­son.

Gameface - - FRONT PAGE - By Steve Ben­nett Staff Writer sben­nett@cit­i­zensvoice.com 570-821-2062, @CVSteveBen­nett

Jack Stan­cav­age was a bit ap­pre­hen­sive. After par­tic­i­pat­ing in ap­prox­i­mately 10 plays on open­ing night this year against North Penn-Mans­field, the North­west se­nior full­back wasn’t sure if he wanted to re­port with the rest of the team the fol­low­ing Mon­day.

He took the week­end to think about it, talked it over with his fa­ther and the North­west coaches. The ap­pre­hen­sive­ness was still there, but Stan­cav­age fig­ured hewould give it an­other shot.

Now the fear is gone and tonight, he’ll play an in­te­gral role as the Rangers host Lack­awanna Trail in the Dis­trict 2 Class A cham­pi­onship game.

Stan­cav­age’s con­cerns had noth­ing to do with his abil­ity or play­ing time. It had to do with his right knee. He tore its ACL twice in back-to-back sea­sons.

The first was a con­tact in­jury while work­ing on the scout team half­way through his sopho­more sea­son. The se­cond in­jury came on a non-con­tact play dur­ing a scrim­mage the week be­fore the start of his ju­nior sea­son.

Both in­juries re­quired surgery and a lengthy re­cov­ery process.

“The first one, one of the other guys fell on me and my knee bent up to my face,” Stan­cav­age said. “The se­cond one we were scrim­mag­ing Athens. I don’t know what hap­pened. I went to cut and my knee buck­led and I went right to the ground.”

Stan­cav­age didn’t know his ACL was torn dur­ing his sopho­more year and played half the sea­son with the in­jury. With the se­cond in­jury, he had surgery three­weeks later.

“It took a lit­tle over a year to re­turn to foot­ball ac­tiv­i­ties after the se­cond one,” Stan­cav­age said. “It was so much tougher than the first one. After the first one, ev­ery­thing kind of felt like it re­cov­ered quicker. The se­cond one, I was out of com­mis­sion for a fewweeks.”

Stan­cav­age ad­mit­ted that he did think about giv­ing up foot­ball all to­gether.

“After the se­cond one it did run through my mind,” Stan­cav­age said. “I was think­ing that it hap­pened again and was it worth it. I thought about what if I tore it again, what am I go­ing to do? About a month later I fig­ured I may as well keep go­ing and give it one more shot.”

North­west coach Lon Ha­zlet was more than happy to have Stan­cav­age back for his se­nior year. Though he missed all of his ju­nior sea­son, Ha­zlet knew that Stan­cav­age had the drive to get back on the field.

The coach­ing staff mon­i­tored Stan­cav­age’s work­load closely. When he re­ported to the weight room he ini­tially squat­ted and used the leg press ma­chine with­out any weight. When he ran, the staff watched, and if the knee was both­er­ing him or some­thing didn’t look right, they backed him off a bit.

Slowly but surely, the strength in the knee be­gan to re­turn.

“We didn’t play him in our scrim­mage. He played a lim­ited ba­sis on open­ing night,” Ha­zlet said. “The se­cond week we in­creased him a bit­more. After that he came to me and told me he wanted to play a lit­tle more. We eased him in sowe had a com­fort level. He started play­ing more and we were giv­ing him the ball a bit. He has made a world of dif­fer­ence for us.”

Stan­cav­age has car­ried the ball in eight games, rush­ing for 171 yards and four touch­downs. He av­er­ages 4.9 yards per carry. But his pri­mary role is open­ing the holes for tail­back Jake An­der­son, who has rushed for 1,416 yards and 14 touch­downs.

“I was a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sive at the be­gin­ning of the process,” Stan­cav­age said. “As prac­tice went on I got a feel for it. The first game I was re­ally afraid.

“The first game I played a bit in the be­gin­ning but took my­self out. After play­ing more it felt good and I could see it was work­ing. It hurt a bit but noth­ing ma­jor. That comes with the ter­ri­tory when you have two surg­eries. From the se­cond game un­til nowthere are no wor­ries. I feel great.”

DAVE SCHERBENCO / THE CIT­I­ZENS’ VOICE

North­west full­back Jack Stan­cav­age plays an in­te­gral role for the Rangers after tear­ing his right ACL in back-to-back sea­sons.

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