Barnesville senior Ackerson battling to get one more snap
BARNESVILLE -- "Take it one day at a time." It's an old adage that coaches still use to this day.
For Barnesville senior center Eric Ackerson, that saying has come to be more important this year than ever before.
"You ask why us, but you can't control it so you have to make due with what you have," he said.
When the Minnesota State High School League finally put football back in the fall, Ackerson was ready to take the field for his final year.
Then he got tagged with a close contact with a positive COVID case. Not once, but twice.
"Just sat next to the wrong person," he said. "It wasn't their fault, it just happens."
It meant he had to miss the first two games of the season.
"It's probably the hardest thing I've had to go through," Ackerson said. "Which it's not the worst thing I guess, but it sucks."
In the Trojans third game of the season against Roseau, Ackerson finally put the pads on and ran onto the field.
"It was definitely the best," he remembered.
Barnesville was running with a depleted roster because of close contacts, so Ackerson was needed everywhere. He played a series on defense, then one on offense against the Rams.
Then he trotted back on the field as a gunner on the kickoff unit.
"Running down the field, see the guy to my left, think I'm going to tackle him, cut to tackle him, and I here a pop," Ackerson said. "Next thing I know I'm on the ground."
He walked off the field, but his head coach, Bryan Strand, knew something went very wrong.
"It brought me to tears, it really did. Because you saw him go down and you knew it wasn't good," Strand said. "He got up and was like 'I'm okay,' and I'm like 'I don't think you are.'"
Ackerson's right knee was mangled. He'd torn his ACL, MCL, and meniscus.
After battling through two quarantines and returning to the sport he loved, it appeared his career was done.
"Not being able to play the first two and then getting back for the third, play two possessions and then it's all over," Ackerson said. "That really sucked."
He couldn't shake being on the sidelines for the rest of the year.
So Ackerson's decided to do something about it. He's holding off on surgery, rehabbing the knee with the hopes he can get back on the field this year, even for just a single series.
"I feel like it would be more right, because ending it how I did just wasn't the right way to go out," Ackerson said.
"If he can get cleared and we can throw a brace on him, he can block," Strand said. "If we can get him out there a for a series before the year's out, we're going to do it."
One thing continues to inspire him, even through some of the more painful moments of recovery.
"Just my team. I want to get out there for them."
2020 is a year no one could have dreamed of. Ackerson's has thrown obstacle after obstacle at him.
He refuses to let them bring him down.
"Everybody would rally around him," Strand said, thinking about potentially seeing Eric play again.
"I've worked since 8th grade to get out there and do that, and now it's been taken away from me," Ackerson said. "At least I can get that much."
"Even just snapping it just one time would be nice."