For the second straight season, Vandalia’s Tim Ritchey was knocked out of the Greenville game after a late hit from Brandon Duncan.
Ritchey suffered fractures in his T1 and T2 vertebrae and will not be able to play in the postseason after a very late helmet-to-helmet hit from Duncan in the third quarter of last Friday’s game.
He also missed the playoffs last season when he suffered a concussion following a late hit from Duncan.
Duncan was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on both plays.
“We take the safety of our players and all other players very seriously,” said Vandalia Superintendent Rich Well on Tuesday afternoon. “We are always concerned when players are seriously injured during athletic competition.
“We have taken the appropriate steps and given all relevant information to the IHSA, as they are the governing body for interscholastic athletics, and they will rule on this issue.”
Ritchey was taken from the field by ambulance last Friday night, leaving teammates shocked and disappointed.
After Ritchey’s injury, the game became very tense, with the Vandals committing five personal foul penalties after that to give Greenville 57 additional yards in the 28-12 Comet win.
But after the game, the team showed its true spirit, packing the Fayette County Hospital emergency room waiting area before Ritchey was flown to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where he was held overnight for observation.
“He didn’t look like he was in the greatest shape at the hospital, but now that he’s back at school, it puts a smile on my face,” Ambuehl said. “You talk to him, and you know it’s the same old Tim.”
Ritchey was on pace to have his best game of the season before the injury, which came early in the third quarter.
He had already had his season-long rush (64 yards) and pass (39 yards). He finished the game with 89 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and 80 yards on four completions.
On the season, he carried the ball 100 times for 690 yards, and was 19-44 passing, with 317 yards and four touchdowns.
“You can’t adequately describe what he has meant to the team,” said coach John Stout. “He’s a true warrior, and what that means is whatever it takes to get the job done, he will do what it takes to do it.
“He is one of my all-time favorite players to coach, and I wish he could be out there,” he said. “But you can’t take anything away from what he has done, because he has gotten us here twice.”