By JASON GORDON
The final score of Friday night’s high school football game became irrelevant for most Hays High fans when they saw Celeb Kimbro sitting on a metal bench with trainers focused intently on his shoulder.
The talented Rebel senior quarterback suffered a sprained AC joint when he landed on his right throwing shoulder near the Rouse Raiders’ goal line in the second quarter.
Kimbro tried to stay in the game one more play, but threw an interception into the arms of Rouse’s Tim Lapaglia.
Kimbro never returned to the game in which his Rebels hung on to win 14-10 in a battle of unbeaten teams.
“It was the worst pain I’ve had on a football field,” Kimbro said. “It’s hard to describe. I knew it was hurt pretty bad right when it happened.”
Kimbro set every single-season quarterbacking record for Hays in 2011 and the player who many tabbed as a sure-fire All-State selection this year was well on his way to having a monster game against Rouse. He rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and passed for 119 more yards before suffering the injury.
“Caleb is the straw that stirs the drink for our football team,” Hays head coach Blake Feldt said. “He makes us go offensively. He’s not only one of the best quarterbacks in the area, he’s one of the best in the state and when you see him go down like that it makes your heart stop for a minute.”
The first thing on Kimbro’s mind was getting back on the field for the Lehman game. Hays is scheduled to play the rival Lobos September 28 at Shelton Stadium.
“I’ll be back for Lehman,” Kimbro said emphatically. “I’m going to do everything I can to get back for that game.”
Feldt said it’s up to the trainers and doctors to determine when fans will see Kimbro back on the field. The AC joint affects the arm’s ability to lift above an individual’s head. Kimbro’s backup Jeff Jordan completed 5-of-9 passes for 58 yards.
After doctors evaluated Kimbro over the weekend they said his return for the Lehman game is a possibility.
“All I can do now is listen to the trainers and we’ll do what they tell us,” Feldt said. “It doesn’t do any good to speculate.”
On the bright side for Hays, a spectacular defensive effort kept the Rebels (3-0) undefeated.
The Hays defense held Rouse (2-1) to 70 total yards in the second half and only three points for the entire game. The Raiders’ lone touchdown came when Jordan Vise intercepted a pass and ran it in 34 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Colin Hubert, Devin Jennings, Christian Rodriguez, Kyle Cox, William Trevillion and Emory Cuzze all made big plays at different times during the game to stifle the Rouse offense, which had averaged 38 points per game through the first two weeks of the season.
After Hays fell behind 10-0, Kimbro scored on runs of 59 and 27 yards to give the Rebels their 14-10 lead.
“How about our defense?” Feldt said. “We just kept fighting and never backed down against a very good football team.”
Feldt said he learned a lot about his Rebels after Kimbro left the field.
“I can’t say how proud I am of this football team,” Feldt said. “A lot of teams would have totally wilted and gone into a shell after losing a player like Caleb. We didn’t do that.”
The Rebels have now moved up to No. 18 in the Class 4A Associated Press poll.
Hays has an open week this Friday before squaring off with Lehman in two weeks. The Lobos are 0-6 all time against the Rebels.