Much is made about toughness in the face of injury and a player’s ability to play through pain. It’s one thing to expect professionals to come through regardless of pain, but it’s another thing entirely for a high school athlete to deliver results while suffering through an excruciating and/or dangerous injury.
Nonetheless, just as some professional athletes have found ways to push past remarkable walls with major titles on the line, high school athletes occasionally deliver the same results. Few in recent memory have lived up to that challenge more ably than Katy (Texas) High quarterback Kiley Huddleston, who led the Tigers to a Texas UIL Class 5A Division II state title victory with a broken leg.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Huddleston suffered a broken tibia during Katy’s semifinal victory against Cibolo (Texas) Steele High, yet refused to miss a chance to earn the school’s seventh state title. He eventually did that in part by completing three of his five passes for 44 yards and managing the game as Katy used a dominant ground attack to eat up yardage and game clock en route to a 35-24 victory.
The win earned Katy a 16-0 perfect season and the aforementioned seventh state crown, which pushed the school into a tie for second place on the all-time titles list (Southlake (Texas) Carroll High and Celina (Texas) High have both won eight state titles).
Still, much of the talk after the game was about Huddleston and his courageous insistence on competing with a broken leg.
“It’s not a weight-bearing bone,’’ Katy coach Gary Joseph told the Morning News. “We got clearance for him to play. He told me nothing was going to keep him from [playing]. He earned the opportunity to go out there.”
While Huddleston insisted his performance was nothing spectacular -- he said that he was driven by his adrenaline and his refusal to let his team down -- Joseph said the very first moment he stepped on the field was inspiring.
“It was very inspiring that he played through all of the adversity. That’s just the heart of a champion right there. Our training staff did a great job getting him ready to play.’’
Training staff or not, playing with a broken leg requires an astounding amount of courage, and all the credit for that belongs to Huddleston himself.