Injured Smyrna QB appreciates teammates’ support

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Smyrna QB Nolan Henderson hopes to play in Saturday’s state title game after being injured in last weekend’s semifinal win. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)


SMYRNA — As the wait for his X-ray results reached a half-hour, Nolan Henderson asked a question.

“Can I go watch the end of the game instead of sitting in this hallway?” Henderson said.

Of course, the answer was no.

Henderson couldn’t leave Christiana Hospital until the staff finished treating him. Meanwhile less than 10 miles away, his Smyrna High football team was celebrating a berth in the Division I state championship game.

Henderson was knocked out of the semifinal victory over William Penn with a neck injury right before halftime last Saturday. The junior quarterback was injured on a hit after a pass attempt and had to leave the field on a stretcher.

He was back throwing the ball at practice on Tuesday, but coach Mike Judy said Henderson has not been cleared yet for the state championship — 1 p.m. against top-seeded Salesianum at Delaware Stadium in Newark.

Immediately after the semifinal game, Henderson’s phone was bombarded with text messages and calls from his teammates. A group of them made the trip to visit him in the hospital.

“It was cool they cared that much,” Henderson said. “It sounded special how they got it done. It took a lot of heart. That they said they were doing it for me meant a lot. I was proud of the whole team for pulling through.”

When Henderson suffered his injury the Eagles were trailing William Penn 13-0. His parents, who rode with him in the ambulance, did their best to update him on the team’s progress.

Henderson heard the crowd cheer before the ambulance left William Penn as the Eagles scored a touchdown with 21 seconds left in the first half.

Then his father was able to pull up the radio broadcast of the game on his phone.

While Henderson was glad he got to follow along, it was certainly a strange feeling.

“It’s hard not being there to affect the game and you can’t do anything about it,” Henderson said. “I wanted to be out there fighting with my guys, but I had trust in them. I knew they were going to fight and try to get it done for me.”

Henderson said it was a busy day at the hospital and his visit took about four hours.

Listening to the radio was a good way to cheer him up. Smyrna held the Colonials scoreless in the second half to finish the game with 30 unanswered points.

“His parents said that was the first smile he had since he got injured,” Judy said.

Once Smyrna won, Henderson’s focus finally shifted to how serious his injury was.

That turned out to be good news too, as the X-rays were negative.

“At first I was just upset that I had to come out,” Henderson said. “I wasn’t really worrying about what it was until I knew the game was over. Then I started wondering if I would be able to play.”

Henderson was excited to see all of his teammates, but he had some special words for his friend Will Knight, Smyrna’s sophomore running back.

Knight scored all of Smyrna’s touchdowns against William Penn. He rushed for 270 yards as the Eagles shifted to a Wildcat formation in Henderson’s absence.

“I just thanked him,” Henderson said. “And told him he’s a beast.”

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