E.A. Sports Today

Mow-ing ’em down

Mower accident in spring spurs Saks’ Young to Defensive Player of the Year senior season

Saks linebacker Monty Young (50) brings down Jacksonville's Sid Thurmond for one of his 144 tackles this season. Below, Young introduces himself to Wellborn quarterback Landon Machristie. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

Saks linebacker Monty Young (50) brings down Jacksonville’s Sid Thurmond for one of his 144 tackles this season. Below, Young introduces himself to Wellborn quarterback Landon Machristie. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Monty Young enjoyed the most productive season of his high school football career this fall, but it was almost a year that didn’t happen.

Late in the spring, the Saks linebacker and a friend were cutting grass around the stadium in advance of graduation. Coach Jonathan Miller instructed him to cut it one way, Young stubbornly wanted to cut it another.

He stumbled and the mower caught his left foot, slicing a big piece off his big toe. Suddenly, all kinds of wild thoughts raced through his mind. Would he lose the toe? Would he play football again? In the end, all was well and the incident actually provided the drive that led Young to the kind of season that earned him East Alabama Sports Today Calhoun County Defensive Player of the Year honors..

“It was kind of worse (looking) than it was,” he remembered. “I got back up on it and was about to cut some more when it started stinging. I looked down and it was bleeding. I pulled my shoe back and saw it was cut open. I saw bone and was like, ‘Man, I’ve gotta go.’”

The orthopedist who met them at the hospital did a good job of quickly easing everyone’s fears, Miller said. Young soon was back on his feet – foot? – and with a greater appreciation for his coach’s instructions and the game.

“I almost cut it off and was thinking this might be my last time to play football with my toe hurt so I might as well go all out,” Young said. “So it pushed me go extra hard, play even better. I was thinking you never know what will happen. It just made me play better, made me focus.

“I was just trying to be the best I could be.”

His best was pretty good. With that mindset, Young was in the middle of everything on Saks’ defense. He moved the pieces and once they were set recorded 144 tackles, seven sacks, 10 tackles for loss and had one interception, one fumble recovery and forced two fumbles.

“He was the quarterback of our defense,” Miller said. “He made the other 10 guys out there a little bit more calm, cool and collected because if there were any issues he would always get them straight.

“We put a lot on him because he could handle it. He just plays the right way. He’s been doing that a long time for us.”

But it wasn’t always as a middle linebacker.

When Young first went out for the football team he was a defensive end. But early in those first workouts it became evident he was faster and more agile than the linemen, quickly several yards ahead of them on plays, so one day Miller asked him to come join the linebackers.

For the sake of his big toe, but perhaps at the risk of a breakout season, it would have behooved Young to have remembered that insight when he wanted to change the mowing pattern that fateful spring day.

“I guess it made me focus more and it taught me that things coach tells you actually are meant to help you,” he said. “I can also say it brought me closer to God because it kind of showed me what could happen, that everything’s not given to you; you don’t know what’s gonna happen next.”

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