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Football: Back in action – Roth returns from ACL injury to help Eagles

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, November 18, 2017
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In the Battle of the Big Sandy rivalry game, Decatur defensive end Braxton Roth charged after Bridgeport quarterback Jadon Maddux when he felt a sudden pop in his left knee.

“There was this unique feeling and a pop. I knew right away something was not right,” Roth said. “I didn’t know it was a full tear of the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).”

REFUSING TO GIVE UP – Decatur defensive end Braxton Roth returned to the field just weeks after tearing his ACL. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A MRI the following week confirmed the extent of the injury. But before even seeing the doctor, the Decatur senior vowed that his career on the gridiron was not over and that he would return. It was a promise he delivered on just four weeks after the injury, returning to the field against Gainesville and making seven tackles, including four for losses. Playing with the torn ACL for the past three games, Roth has 18 tackles, including nine behind the line of scrimmage and three sacks.

“It’s been impressive and inspiring, not only to his teammates but also me,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “To see him overcome that obstacle of tearing his ACL in the fifth game of his senior year and only miss two games. It’s crazy.”

From the moment of the injury, Roth had it in his mind that he would make it back.

“I wasn’t quite ready for it to be over yet. I wasn’t going to go out like that,” he said. “I wanted to go out on my terms.”

His father and defensive coordinator Tony Roth had mixed emotions about his son’s return initially.

“As a coach, you admire him for wanting to come back,” he said. “As a parent, you want to make sure there will not be any longterm issues.

“You could tell he was determined to do everything he could to get back. He was fortunate in the way it was torn and that he has his mother’s pain tolerance.”

Roth did not injure any other tendons or ligaments. After the initial bruising went down and being in a brace for a couple of weeks, he started working with Decatur trainers Kam Phillips and Fernando Escobar. The week of the Hirschi game, he met Phillips at Fit-N-Wise three mornings to work in the therapy pool for more than an hour to build strength and flexibility.

“As soon as he got back from the doctor, he wanted to be in the pool. He was up here every day and ready to roll,” Phillips said.

A week later he was back on the field, wearing a brace. There’s little fear of him damaging the knee more.

“It was great to be back out there with my teammates, making memories,” Roth said.

“Sometimes it hurts, but you have to overcome that and just deal with it. The reward is greater than the pain.”

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