As Crespi quarterback Rob O'Byrne walked slowly off the field during the first quarter at Alemany on Friday night, his right arm encased in an inflatable cast, a wave of emotion washed over him.
Put most people in the position of coping with a season-ending injury and it would have been a wave of nausea.
"I kept thinking that it was my heart that was broken, not my arm," he said.
O'Byrne, a 6-foot, 2-inch senior, was leveled after a 20-yard gain on a draw play in Crespi's 38-14 win over Alemany. O'Byrne entered the game as the No. 5 passer among Valley-area Southern Section quarterbacks with 822 yards. He helped lead the Celts to a 7-0-1 start and a No. 8 ranking in the nation by USA Today.
By his own admission, he took quite a blow. The tackle let the air right out of his season.
"It was wide open in the middle," O'Byrne said from his bed in Valley Presbyterian Hospital, where he remained for observation Saturday after a steel pin was inserted to stabilize the shattered radius and ulna of his passing arm.
"I broke through the line, cut outside to the left and they had an angle on me. I tried to cut back, but somebody got me hard from behind."
Carrying the ball in his right arm, he fumbled as he went down.
"It was the hit that got me. I remember being tackled and losing the ball when I hit the ground. I started arguing with the ref about the fumble when I realized the pain," he said.
Junior quarterback Ron Redell, who is also a starting defensive back, filled in for O'Byrne the rest of the way and made it through the game unscathed. Crespi's third-string quarterback is junior Chad Nichols, who also starts on defense.
O'Byrne's mother, Pat, said the prognosis is for a full recovery, but O'Byrne will have to wear a cast for at least eight weeks.
"It's definitely a setback," she said. "But I guess football teaches you that sometimes it can take a long time to gain 10 yards. He's taking it well, but he's obviously very disappointed."
Who was that guy?: Redell's wasn't the only new number in the Celts' backfield Friday. Senior running back J. J. Lasley also was removed from the game, but for a less serious reason.
Lasley nearly had his jersey, No. 21, torn off by an Alemany defender in the second quarter.
He reappeared later wearing uniform No. 22 and finished with 54 yards on 13 carries. Lasley scored Crespi's third touchdown on a one-yard run.
Good as Gould: The Celts' offensive fireworks have been a boon to kicker Bill Gould.
With a 3-for-3 performance Friday, Gould, a senior, has converted on 45 of 46 extra-point attempts. Gould added a 37-yard field goal in the second quarter to give him six points for the night.
His only PAT misfire came four weeks ago in Crespi's 55-0 win over Santa Barbara.
"I think I'd made about six of them already that game," he said. "I must have lost my concentration or something."
More likely his stamina. Gould also has to kick off after each Crespi score.
Gould has 54 points and is one of two kickers in the top 15 among Valley-area Southern Section scorers.
Crespi running back Russell White, who entered the game third in the state in scoring and second in touchdowns, had four touchdowns against Alemany. White, a junior, has 28 touchdowns and 168 points.
Running back Glyn Milburn of Santa Monica, who scored three times in a 27-3 win over Mira Costa on Friday, leads the state with 29 touchdowns.
Out of position: For the second week in a row, El Camino Real nearly pulled a big upset in the Valley 4-A League. This week's near-victim was San Fernando, the No. 2 team in the City Section rankings. El Camino Real scored a fourth-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion to tie the Tigers, 26-26, on Friday. Last week, the Conquistadores tied Kennedy, 13-13.
San Fernando Coach Tom Hernandez said he thinks El Camino Real is ready to break through with a win.
"They sure played well against us," he said. "They're going to knock somebody off here pretty soon."
Hernandez didn't have much luck containing himself after the game. He spent several lively minutes analyzing the team's defensive breakdowns in his office with his coaching staff. The discussion was high in emotion and volume.
"Yeah, we talked some," he said with a laugh. "It's nothing you can really put in the paper, though."
The Conquistadores (0-4-2), who haven't won in 18 games, weren't just knocking on the door--they were trying to kick it in.
San Fernando (5-0-1) took a 20-6 lead at the half only to see its defense crumble against the Conquistadore running attack. El Camino Real Coach Skip Giancanelli apparently saw something he liked in the first half.
"Giancanelli did a great job of picking out the places where we aren't very strong," Hernandez said. "They had three big runs for something like 60, 30 and 30 yards in the second half. Even the game-winner was a long one."