Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Louis' Freak Accident Has a Happy Ending

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Louis' Freak Accident Has a Happy Ending

Article excerpt

SARASOTA

After results of his MRI came back negative, JoJo Louis got in a GoGo hurry to return to the Braden River High lineup.

"JoJo went, 'Coach, I think I'll be back for North Port,' '' Pirate head coach Curt Bradley said.

Whether the junior linebacker returns for that Oct. 24 game will depend on his recovery from a concussion sustained in Thursday night's game against Sarasota High. At every level of football these days, recovery from a concussion means a return to a baseline testing number established at the start of the season.

The play looked a lot more serious at the time it happened. Louis fell limply to the turf after being involved in a late-game tackle. Immobilized, he was taken away by Manatee County EMS and transported to the Blake Memorial Trauma Center.

Now, when a defender suffers an apparent neck/head injury making a tackle, the positioning of his head at the time of impact usually gets called into question. Defenders are taught to keep their head up. Be able to see what they're hitting.

"We preach 'biting the football,' '' Bradley said, "so if you bite the ball, then you're keeping the face up and head up.''

It's become such an issue that the NFL has teamed up with USA Football, the country's unofficial youth football governing body, to create a program called Heads Up Football, which establishes and teaches safety guidelines.

Did Louis use incorrect technique on the tackle in question? Given a lack of information, that might be the logical assumption, but not only did Louis have his head up on the play, he was hurt by what could be described as "friendly fire.''

It was both freaky and completely accidental. A Sarasota ball carrier was running away from Louis as another Pirate defender approached. The Sailor runner made a cut, but his cleats gave way in the soggy turf and he fell.

At that moment, both Louis and his teammate launched themselves at an opponent no longer there.

"JoJo had his head up, he did what he was supposed to do and (upon impact) his neck went to the back and side and not down,'' Bradley said. "The fact that his head was up made it not nearly as bad as it could have been when our players struck each other. …

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