Indian Creek’s Norris perseveres through injury

COMING BACK STRONG — Indian Creek’s Brennon Norris moves up the court during a Jan. 30 game against Steubenville. The senior overcame a broken leg to return to action. -- Joe Catullo

WINTERSVILLE — On Aug. 24, a devastating injury sacked senior quarterback Brennon Norris’ senior season during the first game.

The top passer in the Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area in 2017 and a school record holder, the expectations were high for the standout quarterback entering the 2018 season.

However, things came to screeching halt in Week 1 due to a leg fracture.

“I had a spiral fracture in my fibula,” Norris said. “It was 3 inches away from my ankle, so my ankle was displaced. They had to pound my ankle back into place with a hammer. Now I have a plate and two screws in my leg.”

Fast forward to Friday night, and Norris is not only back to competing, but back to being a leader — now for the Redskins basketball team.

How did he do it?

“I worked really hard to get back,” Norris said. “Probably six to seven days a week of training, training and more training. At first, it was heartbreaking. I love football, and I broke my leg in the first game of the season. I knew in the back of my head that it was just an obstacle in the road. I knew the man upstairs had a reason for something.

“I knew if I pushed through it, there would be better things at the end of the road.”

While his season on the field was in jeopardy, there was also concern the start of his basketball season could be delayed as well.

His perseverance made a difference.

Norris found himself on the field for Indian Creek’s playoff game against Hubbard.

Now, being a member of coach Joe Dunlevy’s hoops team is his main focus, and he could not be happier.

“Coach D is a great coach, he really pushes me,” Norris said. “I worked really hard to get back for basketball.”

The Redskins are off to a 3-0 start to the basketball season. With each game so far, Norris has gotten stronger. His best performance of the young season came on Friday night when he scored 12 points — all in the second half — to help Indian Creek hold off rival Weir High for a 66-60 win in front of a packed gym.

Those are moments that Norris strived to get back.

“It’s a crazy night,” Norris said of the atmosphere for a rivalry game like Friday’s. “It’s a lot of fun. There is a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of adrenaline rushing. Wins like that just push you even harder to come back.”

According to Dunlevy, Norris’ contributions go far beyond the stat sheets.

“The kid could coach the team,” Dunlevy said. “He is a quarterback and it shows. He’s one, and we’ve got a few kids like that, that could be really good coaches someday if they choose that path. We have an elementary league, and these kids are all there and fantastic with the younger kids. Brennon is no exception.”

Dunlevy, who serves as the school’s athletic director, took notice of Norris’ mindset.

“The thing about him is his attitude coming off of this injury,” Dunlevy said. “He never went ‘Woe is me.’ He just said ‘I am going to work and I am going to get back.’ It was never a thing where he got down. I never felt at any time that the kid might feel sorry for himself. He has done whatever it takes to come back.

“He never missed a practice during football season, even knowing he could not play. When basketball season started, he was at every single practice from day one.”

Hearing that one of the reasons he wanted to get back so badly was to play for his team and school made Dunlevy appreciative.

“With all the things that you go through when you’re a coach — good or bad — all that matters to me is stuff like that,” he said. “What Brennon said, those things are important to me. That kind of stuff makes a coach’s year.

“We just love having him because of his attitude. This senior group is full of leaders, and, of course Brennon is one of them.”,

It was not just Dunlevy who noticed the work Norris put in.

“He worked hard to get back,” Indian Creek football coach Andrew Connor said following the team’s playoff game on Nov. 3, during which Norris threw for 83 yards and a touchdown while playing about half the snaps at quarterback. “He is a great leader and a competitor. He wasn’t anywhere near full strength, but he was playing hard for his teammates. That is just symbolic of the type of kids here at Indian Creek. They wear the red and gold with pride.”

Wearing the red and gold — with pride, as Connor put it — is something Norris enjoys.

“The atmosphere of Indian Creek is amazing,” Norris said. “The team, the leadership, the family aspect, the brotherhood, everything about it is just amazing. I love playing here. Absolutely, it made me want to work hard to get back. Representing the IC is the greatest honor. The spirit of the school, everyone loves Indian Creek.”

That spirit will be on display again on Tuesday night when the Redskins host rival Edison.

“When you’re with your brothers, it’s the greatest thing ever,” Norris said. “I didn’t want to miss a moment with them.”

Now those moments will be on the court instead of the sideline, and he wants to do big things.

“Honestly, yeah I do (want to have a big season after the injury),” he said. “I also can’t do anything without the people around me.”

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)

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