NEW LONDON — The New London High School football team played last season, in part, for Shae Summerfield, who went down with a season-ending hip injury similar to the one that ended Bo Jackson's career.
Summerfield is returning the favor this season. The senior running back/linebacker is playing this season for teammate Jordy Johnson, who suffered a torn ACL during baseball season and will miss the entire football season.
Summerfield is making up for lost time in a big hurry. He has carried the ball 20 times for 291 yards and has scored six touchdowns, helping 8-Player's top-ranked New London to a 2-0 start in defense of their state championship.
Summerfield was simply sensational in last week's 71-12 victory over Moravia in the Tigers' home opener. Summerfield carried the ball 18 times for 277 yards and scored six touchdowns, including one on a 51-yard scamper. He averaged a whopping 15.4 yards every time he touched the ball.
It was the kind of performance that made Johnson proud and put New London one step closer to its ultimate goal.
"We didn't play the week before, so we were a little sloppy at the start. A couple plays didn't go our way and we got behind in the first quarter," said Summerfield, The Hawk Eye's Prep Athlete of the Week. "We called a timeout and we just said we have to slow it down, take care of our side of the ball and just let things happen. We played hard. We played Tiger football and we pulled through."
The Tigers, after venturing four hours north to pummel Williams Bay, Wisconsin, 60-0, in the season opener, got off to a sluggish start against Moravia. The Tigers allowed a pair of big plays and led just 20-12 after one quarter.
The Tigers dug in their heels and shut out Moravia from that point on. Meanwhile, Summerfield and the offense went to work behind the line of Jaxon Allen, Owen Reed and Nick Francis and the downfield blocking of Gabe Carter and Blaise Porter.
"It's cool having six touchdowns, but I couldn't do any of it without my teammates," Summerfield said. "Nick is getting better with every practice and every game. It's impressive to see such a small line open such big holes for our running backs. They are all doing such a great job, And Blaise and Gabe get downfield to block for our running backs. It's a real team effort."
Summerfield said the blocking has been stupendous the first two games.
"On the opening kickoff (against Williams Bay) they opened such a huge hole that you literally could have driven a semi-truck through it," Summerfield said. "The kicker grazed my knee. Other than that, I wasn't touched the whole way."
Summerfield said the bus ride to and from Williams Bay gave the team time to bond. But when it got close to game time, the Tigers were all business.
"We had a lot of fun on the bus, joking around and stuff," Summerfield said. "Since I am one of the team captains, once we got within an hour I told the team to quiet down and get focused on the game."
As if Summerfield and the Tigers need any extra motivation, they need only look to the sideline, where Johnson is hobbling on crutches. Summerfield, for one, knows the feeling all too well.
"Seeing Jorday go down with an injury was tough. He's been my buddy my whole life," Summerfield said. "In high school football, you never know what to expect. We won a state championship last year and we plan to do the same this year. I told Jordy, 'You did it for me last year. Now I'm going to do it for you this year.'"