With injury in past, Carrow a key for Smyrna

Defensive lineman Mikey Carrow proudly carries the Smyrna High banner as he leads his fellow Eagles onto the field this season. Smyrna hosts Hodgson in a Division I state tournament semifinal game on Saturday night. (Delaware State News file photo)

SMYRNA — Everyone associated with the Smyrna High football program remembers that moment two years ago when the Eagles won their first ever Division I football state title.

For practically all of them, it was one of the happiest moments of their lives.

Then there’s Mikey Carrow.

Carrow was a sophomore in 2015 who was robbed of that celebration by a torn ACL. He missed the final eight games that year, including all three state tournament contests.

He wanted to be on the field. He knew he deserved to be out there.

And he didn’t know how he should feel when the Eagles won an overtime thriller against Salesianum for the championship.

“It was horrible,” Carrow said. “But it was awesome at the same time. But all I wanted was to be on the field with my guys again.”

So Carrow knows as well as anyone not to take playoff games for granted. He’ll have another chance to play in one Saturday night when the second-seeded Eagles host three seed Hodgson at 7 p.m. for the right to go to the Division I state championship game.

Carrow has rebounded from his injury to become a key cog on the Smyrna defensive line.

In his first year back, the Eagles repeated as Division I champions with an undefeated 2016 season. That time, Carrow could celebrate as an active player.

Coach Mike Judy said Carrow’s comeback from his injury is one of the most rewarding things of the last two years.

“It puts on display the type of kid he is,” Judy said. “He’s a tough character. He comes from a good, tough family of hard-working people. When a kid goes through an injury like that you never know how he’s going to be, especially mentally. This year he’s been a stalwart out there.”

Carrow originally hurt his knee in a 2015 scrimmage against William Penn. But the extent of the injury was not known and Carrow played through it until halftime of a Oct. 12, 2015 contest against Howard.

That’s when Carrow was in a severe amount of pain and checked his knee in the locker room.

“I look down and my knee was the size of a football,” he recalls.

Carrow was sent for an MRI and the results came back with a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee.

His physical therapy lasted until the following June. It meant Carrow had to also sit out his sophomore baseball season.

The hardest part, Carrow says, was dealing with the mental effects of not being able to do what he loved doing.

“It feels like you got into a bad car accident and you lost both your legs or something,” he said. “It’s honestly kind of depressing. You feel good but you know can’t go do what you want to do and you’re limited in what you can do. You’re just sitting there. It’s a long tiring, process. But I made it back quicker than they thought I would, so it’s all good now.”

When he first returned to the field, he noticed he wasn’t as aggressive as he used to be. That went away after a few games.

“I’d catch myself tip-toeing around,” Carrow said. “You just got to forget about it and just go out there and play.”

While he has developed into an All-Conference defensive lineman, Carrow actually began his career at Smyrna on the offensive line.

Judy said the idea to switch Carrow to defense began his sophomore season. Now he’s one of the focal points in the trenches, doing the dirty work as Judy describes it.

“He’s a tremendous player but he’s an even better teammate because he doesn’t do a job that gets a lot of glory,” Judy said. “He doesn’t get a lot of stats, he soaks up double-teams, he allows the linebackers to run and the other d-line men to get single-blocked a lot. He makes us click.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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