Leader Times Q&A: Redbank Valley's Mark Strothers
The PIAA doesn't hand out an award for Comeback Player of the Year, but if it did, Mark Strothers would be on the short list.
The Redbank Valley senior running back rushed for a school-record 302 yards and tied the District 9 record with seven rushing touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 55-34 win over Union-Rimersburg last Friday.
Those totals would be remarkable under any circumstances, but Strothers achieved the feat less than 13 months after a torn ACL ended his junior season. A second, similar injury to the other knee occurred toward the end of his rehab in early April, which put his availablity to start the season in jeopardy.
But Strothers has been there for his team since camp opened, and through three games, he has 511 yards and 11 touchdowns on 51 carries to lead the Bulldogs (2-1, 2-0) to a first-place tie in the KSAC-Small School division.
Q: How did it feel to go injury-free through your first game this fall?
A: It felt great coming back. I was a little nervous in the first two games because I know it only takes one hit to reinjure my knee, but by last week, I wasn't as nervous.
Q: Do you feel 100 percent?
A: I think I am. I can cut and run fast now, like I did before the injury. I'd say I'm back to where I was.
Q: What was the most yards you had gained in a game before Friday?
A: In my 10th-grade year, I had about 180 against Moniteau.
Q: How about your most touchdowns?
A: I think my last year of midget football, I had seven touchdowns and about 500 yards against Punxsutawney, but nothing like that in high school.
Q: What went right in the running game against Union?
A: Our line really picked it up. It was amazing running behind them the way they played. They didn't miss a block and picked up all their assignments.
Q: How different is the feeling around the team after a 1-8 season?
A: There's a lot more excitement. Last year at practices, everyone was sort of moping around by the end. This year, there's a lot more enthusiasm, and everyone's working hard.
Q: What would be the dream finish to your senior season?
A: I want to have a few more good games and make the District 9 playoffs. It would be nice to beat Clarion, too, because they're ranked No. 1 (in District 9), and we haven't beaten them in a while.