FLS Varsity brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school sports.
Player of the week: Riverbend’s Maurice Gary
BY ADAM HIMMELSBACH
Riverbend running back Maurice Gary ran for three touchdowns in the Bears’ 20–19 win over Albemarle on Friday night. But statistics are not the most impressive part of Gary’s story.
To understand the magnitude of his performance against the Patriots, you have to understand what he went through to get to that point.
On Sept. 2, the Bears were munching on a pregame meal before they faced Courtland.
Gary grabbed a brownie—because what teenager doesn’t love a good brownie—and he asked someone if it had nuts in it.
He was told that it did not, and that was pretty important, because Gary is allergic to nuts.
So he took a big bite.
“And before I knew it, my tongue was really swollen,” said Gary, The Free Lance–Star’s player of the week.
It turned out there was a walnut in the brownie.
Gary called his mother and told her what had happened, and she told him to call an ambulance. But Gary knew that if he called an ambulance he’d miss the football game, so he just took some Benadryl and got on the team bus.
During the ride, it became difficult for Gary to breathe. Moments after he stepped off the bus, he lost consciousness. He had suffered an anaphylactic seizure.
He remembers Riverbend coach Todd Campbell standing next to him and telling him to hang on, to stay with him.
But he doesn’t remember what happened next.
He doesn’t remember being transported to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center before quickly being transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond.
He doesn’t remember being placed in a coma so he wouldn’t fight the breathing tubes.
“The next thing I know,” Gary said, “I was waking up Monday morning in a hospital.”
At the time, it seemed Gary’s high school career might be over. And as Riverbend struggled through an 0–4 start, there seemed little reason for him to rush back.
But Gary was determined to return. He spent several weeks getting back into football shape, and on Sept. 23, he played in the Bears’ game against North Stafford.
“I felt pretty clumsy the first time I got back onto the field,” he said. “But it felt really good to be back.”
Last Friday night, Gary had 23 carries for 89 yards and three touchdowns in the Bears’ win over Albemarle.
It was Riverbend’s second win in its last three games after an 0–6 start. And for Gary, it was the final indicator that he was finally back.
Campbell said he was impressed that Gary’s final two touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, when players tend to wear down. The fact that he was still bobbing and weaving was a testament to his recent hard work.
“That was vintage Maurice,” Campbell said. “He’s a fighter. He was just as strong at the end of the game as he was at the beginning.”
But Gary doesn’t consider his late-game surge to be anything out of the ordinary. He is just playing the game the only way he knows how.
“I could’ve just sat out the season when we were 0–5,” he said. “I didn’t have to come back. But football is just my life.”
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442
Each Tuesday, The Free Lance–Star will recognize a high school football player of the week from the previous weekend’s games.
Week 1: Zach Deutel, Brooke Point QB
Week 2: Brandon Ravenel, North Stafford WR
Week 3: Ashten Dixon, Spotsylvania QB
Week 4: Trey Reed, Colonial Forge RB/DB
Week 5: Logan Jackson, Stafford LB
Week 6: Julian Bumbrey, James Monroe DB
Week 7: Marquis James, Washington & Lee RB
Week 8: DaeSean Hamilton, Mountain View WR/DB
Week 9: Kevin Daniels, North Stafford RB
Week 10: Maurice Gary, Riverbend RB