Last summer, Richy Anderson injured his shoulder. Midway through this season, Ben Wright learned his prostate cancer had returned.
But both the running back and the coach persevered through a difficult year, which will be their last with the Gov. Thomas Johnson High School football team.
Anderson, a senior, is committed to Penn State University. Wright decided to step down once he learned of his diagnosis, but he also didn’t make his choice effective until after Saturday’s season-ending loss to Frederick High School.
“You don’t quit,” Wright said. “We’re always getting on people about that. You’ve got to stick it out.”
Wright also resigned as Thomas Johnson’s coach after last season, but he and school administrators worked out their differences a day later, and Wright returned. During this season, which ended with a 4-6 record, Wright learned his cancer's return likely was due to the stress of coaching.
Wright said he would consider serving as an assistant coach at some point but that he was burned out from the off-the-field aggravations of coaching, which he's done for 44 years, including 26 at Thomas Johnson.
“I think I’ll get the health back in order,” Wright said. “It’s just going to take a while.”
Anderson sprained his AC joint at a camp in July and the effects lasted well into this season, according to Wright. Anderson aggravated the injury a few times and had to leave games.
When he played, he spent more snaps at wide receiver than Wright would have preferred if Anderson had been completely healthy. Anderson, an All-Gazette defensive back last season, also rarely played defense this year.
This isn’t the first time Anderson has seriously injured himself with Wright playing a role in the story.
When Anderson was in eighth grade, Wright came to watch one of his practices. Anderson recalled scoring four or five times that day, and on the final play, he ran sideline to sideline during a long gain.
The whistle blew, but Johnson kept running.
“I wanted to get to the end zone just to prove to him that I was a good player,” Anderson said.
He stiff-armed the safety, but in the process, Anderson broke his arm and missed the rest of the season.
It’s unknown where Anderson and Wright will go from here, but regarding his eighth-grade injury, Anderson was steadfast in his assessment.
“It was meant to happen,” he said.