CANTON — Canton-Galva sophomore Tyson Struber was told he would not be able to return from a broken hand until the state championship game, if the Eagles made it that far.
The standout wide receiver and defensive back went to receive a second opinion. Last Friday in the 8-Man Division I Quarterfinals, Struber helped lead Canton-Galva to a 42-16 win over previously undefeated South Central.
It was the first time back out on the field for Struber since sustaining the injury on Oct. 11 in a 60-0 win against Goessel. Struber injured his hand at the bottom of a pile fighting for a fumble.
Struber did not come out of the game. In fact, he finished the game with two touchdown catches and two interceptions.
The following Monday when his hand was not feeling better, he went to the doctor where he was initially told he would be out approximately six weeks. After receiving the second opinion and finding out he would be able to play sooner than anticipated, Struber said his eyes nearly filled with tears of joy.
“The hand feels good. I definitely thought I would be a little hesitant tackling,” Struber said, “but once I got into the game I didn’t even notice the club.”
Struber will play the rest of the season with a club cast on his broken hand. While this will certainly limit his receiving abilities, Struber will still be a force on defense and with the ball in his non-broken hand.
In last Friday’s win, Struber took a hand off 74 yards untouched for a touchdown. He also had an interception and 9.5 tackles.
“He’s a special talent,” head coach Shelby Hoppes said after Friday’s game. “When you put the ball in his hands, good things happen.”
The loss of an all-state receiver like Struber appeared to be catastrophic for a Canton-Galva team attempting to win its first state championship in program history. Not only did the Eagles weather the storm, there was no visible drop off from a production standpoint.
Without Struber, Canton-Galva averaged 58.5 points in the last four games. The Canton-Galva defense also allowed one touchdown during that stretch.
A big reason why is the emergence of senior Kinser Colgin, who caught two touchdowns and had an interception in the win over South Central.
When the team found out Struber would be out for a significant stretch, Hoppes said Colgin was the first player he spoke to.
“We had a long discussion about how he needed to find that next level,” Hoppes said. “He’s really shown that he’s a playmaker himself, and he’s his own person. He doesn’t need Tyson on the other side to get open and catch the ball.
“Defensively, he’s one of our best tacklers, and he’s the guy who gets us lined up in the right situations.”
Stepping up and becoming senior quarterback Landon Everett’s new No. 1 target has installed new confidence into Colgin.
“Even before he got hurt, I was feeling really good about my catching ability,” Colgin said. “After his injury knowing I would have to step up, it made me believe in me more because my teammates believed in me more.”
The Eagles are 11-0 and will travel to Madison High School (11-0) this Friday for a spot in the state championship game. As freshmen, Colgin and Everett were members of a 2-7 season. As sophomores, the Eagles went 4-5. As upperclassmen, Colgin and Everett have enjoyed a combined 21-2 record.
“I never thought we’d make it this far,” Everett said. “As a freshman, I was a 130-pound tight end, and we had nine guys on the team. It’s crazy what being in the weight room and buying in to the system what it can do.
“The confidence level is high right now,” Everett added. “We also know Madison is a really good team. We have to keep our head on that and take it one game at a time.”