In a single game, Phillip Bonner had both his best and worst experience on the football field during his senior season for the Thomson Bulldogs.
It was Sept 29. With 0:03 left before halftime against Hephzibah, Bonner hauled in his first career touchdown pass, a 10-yarder from second string quarterback Brandon Turman. He then quickly changed shoes and kicked his own extra point to put Thomson up 35-0.
The second half wasn't so kind to the receiver/kicker. Tight end Jaquavius Surrency landed on Bonner's ankle during a later play. His weight rolled Bonner's ankle outward, breaking a bone and separating a tendon
"Most people when they sprain their ankles, they roll it inwards," Bonner said. "...All his weight came down, and it pushed my ankle outward and my knee inward. So it looked like I blew out my knee or something."
The ankle injury effectively ended Bonner's season in only the fourth game. He has taken the setback in stride, though, recognizing the positives with the negatives.
"It really stinks," Bonner said. "But it's also, I guess you could say, leadership training for me. Even though I'm down I can still be out here for the team and help them come through."
Watching instead of playing is tough on a competitor like Bonner. But being a team player has helped him continue to contribute even though he's not on the field.
"It's tough being out," he said. "I just sit there and kind of want to do it myself, but I have to sit back and coach these other kids and help them get through it."
He did just that against Glenn Hills. The offense was having trouble moving the ball, and Bonner let his teammates know they needed to dig deep and play harder.
"I was not happy that first half," he said. "On the sideline, I was getting in their faces, telling them they need to step it up because this is not how Thomson plays football."
The extra help on the sidelines has not gone unnoticed. Thomson Coach Luther Welsh said he appreciates Bonner's dedication to the team.
"He encourages the kids. He does a good job," Coach Welsh said. "He's out there at practice every day, hasn't missed a day."
Bonner even went home from school sick one day, and Coach Welsh told him to stay home because he couldn't participate at practice. But Bonner wouldn't do that. Come 3 o'clock, he was on the practice field, crutches and all.
"That's unusual for most kids," Coach Welsh said. "But it's not unusual for him because he wants to play and be a part of it."
On Nov. 15, Bonner will begin his comeback journey. The cast comes off that day, two days before the first round of the state playoffs. Bonner said he can put weight on his ankle as soon as the cast comes off.
He will continue to work with team trainer Brooks Johnson to gain strength even before the cast is gone. But his ultimate goal is to get back on the field.
"I'm hoping to work it out where I can at least kick that Friday, but I highly doubt it," he said.
So far this season, sophomore Darius Eubanks has started in Bonner's receiver slot. Two defensive backs - Vincent Scott and Rodney Roberts - have also spent time filling in for him. Scott - who handles kickoffs - has also taken extra point kicking duties.
Bonner, who has been recruited for his pitching skills in baseball, said the injury shouldn't affect the coming season on the diamond.