ST. GEORGE — Putting a positive spin on a serious injury is never easy, but football fans around the state are thankful that Nephi Sewell will be able to recover from a serious neck injury suffered early in the game against Jordan Friday night.
Sewell, the star running back, returner and cornerback for Desert Hills, collided with a Jordan receiver on an incomplete pass on the fourth play of the game. The injury, though scary because it was up in the neck area, did not seem serious at first.
Trainers advised Thunder coach Carl Franke to leave Sewell out of the rest of the game for precautionary measures. The advice proved to be critical as it was learned later Friday night that Sewell had suffered a broken neck. Surgery Saturday repaired the damage.
“I’m just sick right now,” Franke said. “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid in the world. And his future was unbelievably bright.”
Franke informed the team Saturday morning of the injury in a closed meeting. Team members were asked to stay off of social media until after the surgery.
Sewell, whose older brother Gabe plays college football for the University of Nevada, was in good spirits after the surgery, Tweeting thanks to all his well-wishers.
“I’d like to thank everyone who came and visit and also to those who checked up on me. I appreciate it a lot and I love you all,” Sewell Tweeted from his @jungleboii02 Twitter handle.
The junior running back was dynamic last season, returning kicks and backing up all-region performer Bridger Cowdin. he also played every down on defense, developing into one of the best cornerbacks in the state. Sewell returned several kicks and several interceptions for touchdowns in 2014.
Well-wishers streamed in and out of Sewell’s hospital room Sunday, including former Pine View running back and world-class junior boxer Pano Tiatia. Fellow running back Tre Miller, from Dixie, Tweeted “Get well soon bro! Love you man! You’re a beast and will come back better than ever before.”
It’s unclear how long Sewell will be out, or if he will return to football at all after the scary injury.
“Well, he’s definitely done this year,” Franke said. “We don’t know much beyond that.”
Sewell was one of the top vote-getters in the preseason media and coaches poll earlier this month, finishing second in the MVP balloting behind Dixie’s Miller.
Sewell, who had some spectacular plays in the state playoffs last season, was an integral part of the Desert Hills team as Franke and his staff realized his skill and potential. Filling his void will not be easy. Marco Jordan will take over at running back, while some shuffling will be required on defense and special teams.
“Obviously we’re not worried about that right now,” Franke said. “We just want Nephi to make a full recovery.”
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