Cherokee senior running back Japheth Curtsinger knows that all to well.
Last football season, on the first play of the first game against Campbell County, Curtsinger made a cut without contact and tore his anterior cruciate ligament. The injury sidelined him for the season and left him facing six months of rehab.
“It was heartbreaking. I have so much love for this game and it was really hard to go out injured,” Curtsinger said. “I didn’t know how to take it, so I took it as motivation and ran with it.”
Even though he was out for a significant amount of time, Curtsinger went straight to work on rehab and therapy for the ACL injury while also haunting the gym to build up his strength.
“If I wasn’t at physical therapy, I was at the gym. I was trying to get better every day,” he said.
This year, Curtsinger is back on the field with the Chiefs and looking better than ever.
“I can get downhill better this year and I can get as many yards as I want. ... I learned a lot last year during my time off the field. It can be taken away so easily and I learned not to take anything for granted,” he said.
Curtsinger said the Chiefs have set the bar high for themselves in a tough Region 1-5A in which the team finished 5-5 last season.
“We’ve been saying our goals all summer and we believe we can achieve them,” he said. “With all the conditioning we’ve done this summer, we’ll be ready come the fourth quarter. We’ll be really juiced up and ready to play.
“I’m really looking forward to the first home game against Campbell County. I went out the first play of that game last year and I want some redemption.”
Curtsinger doesn’t have to wait long. He and the Chiefs will welcome the Cougars in the 2018 season opener on Friday, Aug. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.