After sitting out the first three games of the season due to transfer rules, North Side quarterback Duce Taylor was finding his groove in Week 5 against Bishop Luers.
Following his return to the field the week before with a 228-yard, 5-TD effort against Wayne, Taylor had the Legends up 12-0 on Bishop Luers as the second quarter began at Chambers Field.
“It was the first place of the second quarter,” Taylor remembers. “The snap was a little to the right, so I scrambled right and was looking downfield for a third-down conversion.
“I did not see the outside linebacker coming off the edge. As he went to hit me, I lifted up my arm to try and stiff arm him.”
Instead of landing the stiff arm, Taylor’s hand was pushed back against his own helmet by the defender’s helmet, pinching his fingers.
As he recovered from the hit, Taylor felt that his hand was a little numb. But he didn’t immediately recognize something was wrong.
“One of my offensive lineman helped me up and I looked down at my hand to see if I had any blood on my nail,” Taylor said. “The top of my finger was just hanging there. I could see the bone.”
The force of the two helmets crunching his fingers had ripped a tip of a finger almost completely off of Taylor’s hand.
Once he recognized the severity of the injury, Taylor booked it to the North Side sideline, where he had the finger quickly wrapped by a trainer.
Soon after, the junior quarterback was taken to the hospital, where he had the top of the finger stitched back on. The fingernail was completely removed. After the surgery, Taylor was pushing to return to North Side to finish the game.
“Yeah, my surgeon wasn’t going to let that happen,” Taylor said.
If there was a silver lining, it was the fact that the injury was suffered on Taylor’s non-throwing hand. While he had to sit out the Week 6 game against Homestead, his recovery and return to the field was not as extensive as it would have been had the injury happened to his other hand.
Last Friday, Taylor returned for the Totem Pole Game against South Side, making the winning 59-yard touchdown throw in the fourth quarter despite being only “about 80 percent” with the healing hand, leading the Legends to a 17-16 victory.
While the splint and wrapped hand did not directly affect his play, Taylor did say something else bothered him during the game against South.
“What affected me was the pain and the cold,” Taylor said. “When it got cold, it was like being outside in freezing weather and someone stepping on your finger.”
Taylor persevered and hopes to be at full health this week against Northrop. North Side could use him. In games that Taylor plays in, the Legends are 3-0.
While some may have been affected long term seeing their finger hanging by a thread, Taylor, who has a few Division I offers on the table, is pushing forward.
“My reaction was that I am a football player and I believe I am not that soft of a guy,” Taylor said. “I wanted to come back the next week, but my family believed I should let it heal more.
“I had never really had an injury before. I was really just in shock about the whole thing.”