Minden High senior Hunter Alford can’t be kept down, even against the most unlikely of odds.
The senior worked tirelessly to earn a starting spot for his final season, and he was rewarded with the starting left tackle gig.
However, in the Crimson Tide’s second game of the season, things took an unexpected turn.
“I tore my peroneal tendon,” Alford said. “When it first happened I thought I broke my ankle, because I felt a big pop. I tried to take a few steps, but as soon as a took one step I felt another pop.”
Alford was given the diagnosis and told he would need 4-6 weeks to recover before he could begin physical therapy. With the time needed to complete physical therapy, doctors told Alford his playing days were likely over.
A return almost became an afterthought when following surgery Alford got some scary news.
“My ankle was infected,” Alford said. “They had to open me back up and clean it. I was back in the hospital for nine days. My infection levels were so high, I almost lost my foot.”
Doctors told Hunter and his mother, Tonya, that had he waited another day or two, he would have lost his foot.
Alford was undeterred, always keeping in mind his goal of getting back on the field for Minden. Hunter did anything he could to move and strengthen the ankle and even started running on the ankle. This week, Alford has participated in practice for the first time since injuring his ankle, something that amazes Tide head coach Spencer Heard.
“It wasn’t a sprained ankle or anything,” Heard said. “They cut him open, then he had to go back in for a week with the infection. He’s walking around fine and he’s been out here jogging fine. It’s really amazing some of the stuff he’s doing these days.”
Heard would love to see Alford get some playing time Friday night, but said Alford will be a game time decision.
“He’s a guy who’s put in a lot of work during his four years at Minden,” Heard said. “He was our starting left tackle and it’s a shame that had to happen for his senior season, but he’s shown what a fighter he is and he’s going to keep pushing. He’s eager to get back out there; we just have to see how he reacts to moving around on it. If he feels right and good, he adds depth for us going into the playoffs.”
Key to Alford’s recovery has been the support of his teammates who spent hours with the hulking left tackle while he was in the hospital.
“They’re all there,” Alford said. “That means the world. I see what the team has been doing and I want to get back out there and help them. You can tell God has his hand on them and on me.”
Regardless of whether Alford is able to log game action, he will be able to run through the banner with his teammates for senior night. It’s a moment Alford has waited a long time for, and it will take more than a bad tendon to stop him from achieving it.
“The doctors don’t want me to go out there for senior night, but I told them that’s not going to happen,” Alford said. “It means everything to me. I can’t even tell you the level of excitement I’m on.”