Injuries mount for Middleton's football team

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton football coach Tim Simon has seen his team lose four starters to injury before the season has started./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

If it wasn’t for bad luck, it doesn’t appear Middleton’s football team would have any luck whatsoever.

The 2017 season hasn’t even arrived, and Middleton has already lost four players expected to play vital roles.

During last Friday’s scrimmage with Watertown and Mount Horeb/Barneveld, the Cardinals lost two players with potential season-ending injuries.

Senior wideout Brogan Brunker suffered broken bones in his hand and stands a slim chance to return late in the year. Junior right guard Dylan Kalscheur suffered a torn ACL and will miss the entire season.

Earlier this summer, junior Max Schlicht — a likely starter at tight end — suffered a torn ACL while playing basketball that ended his year before it even began. And during the first week of practice, senior left tackle Jarrett Horst suffered a Jones fracture in his foot and will likely miss most of the regular season.

Middleton begins the 2017 campaign Friday when it hosts Madison Memorial at 7 p.m.

“I go to church, I pray in the morning and I pray at night,” Middleton coach Tim Simon said. “I even pray four or five times during the day.

“We’ve just been incredibly unlucky. These are just unfortunate, freak injuries.”

Brunker was only slated to play a few snaps during the scrimmage. He was injured when he caught a quick hitch, and while being tackled, reached out to brace his fall.

Brunker could try letting the bones heal, cast the hand and potentially return late in the season. Under that scenario, Brunker would move to the defensive backfield. If Brunker opts for surgery, his year will be over.

Brunker was the Cardinals’ most experienced receiver, and Middleton’s passing game was set to revolve around him. Without Brunker, Simon and offensive coordinator Jason Pertzborn will have to be creative to move the ball through the air.

“We’ve got some other options and other kids that will have to step up,” Simon said. “But we don’t have another Brogan.”

This marked the second straight year Brunker’s season was ruined by injury.

Last year, Brunker was struck with Lemierre's syndrome, a disease that affects just 1-in-1,000,000 people and has a mortality rate between 4-12%. Brunker almost fell into that category, surviving a procedure in which his heart had to be re-started and doctor’s gave him a 25% chance to live.

“Last year, he literally cheated death,” Simon said of Brunker. “So he’s handling this injury better than most other kids would.”

Kalscheur was enjoying a solid camp and had won the starting right guard position. He will be replaced in the lineup by junior Gavin Adler.

Sophomore Clay Craker (6-2, 284) has come on since the injury to Horst and is the frontrunner to open the season at left tackle.

“The good thing is we’ve got some other people up front and we have some other players that are certainly capable,” Simon said. “Still, your heart breaks for the kids.”



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