Ashley senior Anthony Andrews watched backfield mate Charles Dent gingerly limp to the sideline and hoped for the best. A sprained ankle would maybe slow the speedy running back for a few weeks in a long-awaited football season; a more serious injury was too cruel to imagine.
Coming back from a broken left ankle that derailed his junior season, Dent had already scored two touchdowns in the opener against Hoke County when he was spun down awkwardly on a fourth-quarter carry.
The Screaming Eagles beat the Bucks, 14-7, in Week 1, but their first season-opening win in a decade came with deflating news. Dent needed his second surgery on the same ankle in less than a year, his season finished. He'll end his high school career having played about eight full quarters in his final two years.
"We've always been on the same field," said Andrews, who began his football career with Dent on the Pop Warner Wilmington Colts. "Last year, it killed me knowing that No. 25 wasn't going to be on the same field I was. This year, it really devastated me because I was with him putting in all that work and time and effort to get back."
Ashley's season changed course with Dent's latest injury, a reality evidenced by a disappointing offensive showing in last Friday's 26-6 loss to Swansboro. After a promising start, the Screaming Eagles must adapt their triple-option offense without their most dynamic ball carrier.
Dent had his surgery hours before last week's loss but hopes to be on the sideline Friday when Ashley (1-1) travels to Fairmont (2-0). The team captain will be on crutches for six to eight weeks, then launch into a familiar rehabilitation process with hopes to continue his career at the next level, likely as a walk-on.