CRAWFORD, Texas — There is some big spirit out of Crawford.
A dominant dream season was cut one game too short as the Crawford Pirates fell to Hawley in the state semifinals on Thursday.
But that night, it was more than a game.
"They were gonna step up and perform the second half. And part of that was due and in respect to Luis," Greg Jacobs, Crawford head coach, said.
One snap sent fear through the entire team.
"He tried to make a tackle and he was on the ground, and he tried to stand up and he was just stumbling around," Luke Torbert, senior quarterback and safety, said. "We tried to help pick him up and let him walk and he kept dropping and stumbling around."
That same night, senior receiver and linebacker Luis Rodriguez was sent to the hospital with a brain bleed. But the squad still had a game to win.
"These are one of those instances where once that incident occurred, it was out of their hands to help Luis," Jacobs said. "But, they could play for Luis."
This moment was more than winning. It was more than the game. It was their brother.
"As soon as he went out, I was mostly just thinking about him. The game was just a game," Eli Abel, senior defensive tackle, said. "I was saying that we could lose this game as long as big Luis was alright."
That Friday, the entire group of seniors made the trip to Jon Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth and spent it right by his bed side.
"Just seeing him happy and smiling and talking was good. Obviously, he's still struggling with it and he'll be healing and recovering for however much time it takes," Torbert said. "But it was good to just see him happy and smiling and laughing."
Rodriguez was smiling with his teammates and coaches who were supporting him through it all.
"I thought his spirits were good even though he was hurting," Jacobs said. "I couldn't ask for a better situation in the outcome of this as he was able to come home yesterday."
Luis was released from the hospital on Friday night, returning to a village of support.
On Monday, Dec. 12, the players and cheerleaders have planned a movement for everyone to wear blue to school in Rodriguez's honor called Blue for Luis.
"They care about each other and that was one sign of their caring is to find a way to come together to show how much they care about a young man who faced an adverse situation," Jacobs said.
The road to Arlington may have ended for this Crawford squad, but they have peace in knowing that their brother and teammate is on the road to recovery.
"Love you big Luis," Abel said. "Hope you get well soon!"
"Get well buddy! We love you," Torbert said.
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