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ACA's Dare doing fine but faces long recovery


American Christian Academy’s Parker Dare, left, remains hospitalized with three broken ribs and a lacerated kidney from Friday’s game against Fultondale. (Photo by Kelly Lambert)


TUSCALOOSA | Parker Dare didn’t know how badly he was hurt. He kept asking if he could play this week when the American Christian Academy football team faces Gordo.

Dare, a 15-year-old sophomore defensive back and wide receiver, was in on a tackle during Friday’s game against Fultondale. He made the stop, but a collision with a teammate left him with three broken ribs and a lacerated kidney. He was examined at Northport Medical Center and flown by helicopter to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. When he arrived, doctors were preparing to remove the damaged kidney, but his father, Austin Dare, said Tuesday that the surgery might not be necessary. Parker underwent a CAT scan, and the results of blood work and other examinations were encouraging.

"He’s healing up pretty good," Austin Dare said. "He was feeling really good about not having to do the surgery.

"He’s doing a pretty good job of hanging in there. It’s been a long couple of days. We’re hoping that he’s past the worst of it. He’s heavily medicated right now because of the amount of pain he’s in. They got him up Monday and had him walk. This morning he walked on his own. It hurt him to do it, but he was able to walk and get around. They’ve got him doing breathing exercises for his lungs to make sure there’s no pneumonia."

Austin Dare estimated that his son’s recovery could take six months. The younger Dare won’t be able to participate in basketball or baseball this school year.

"He’s very determined," Austin Dare said. "Football is the No. 1 sport he really loves. It’s the one he’s the most passionate about.

"If everything goes well, he should be able to come back. He said he is looking forward to that. I think he’ll be able to recover just fine. It’s just going to be a long road."

On Sunday, ACA coach John Causey called Parker Dare and put him on the speaker so he could talk to his teammates. Dare told the Patriots to beat Gordo.

"That’s his attitude," Causey said. "He’s laying in a hospital, still uncertain which direction his health is going, and he’s worried about the team. That speaks volumes for him and his concern for others. He’s a sophomore, but he’s been playing for two years, starting for two years. His leadership ability is going to be missed. As soon as he gets to where he can get back out there, I know he will.

"My main objective is the safety and health of our players, and when something like this happens it puts things in perspective of how vulnerable we are. It affects you. It affects our players. But we’re hearing good news, and that’s always a plus. It does my spirit good to hear some good news."

Causey drove to Birmingham on Friday night to check on his player. Austin Dare said the family has received "a lot of support" from parents calling and from players and coaches visiting.

Causey described the injury as a "total freak accident."

"I’ve watched the play probably 25 or 30 times, just trying to see if I missed something," Causey said. "A knee hits him in the side. He gets up and then goes back to his knees. As soon as I got to him he started getting his breath back. At halftime he started getting worse. That’s when we knew it was serious."

Rob Cain, ACA’s athletic director, said the injury occurred during a "fairly routine type of tackle."

"To be a typical football play and to have the results that it had always is a shock," Cain said. "Certainly our prayers go out to Parker, and I believe that’s a large reason why he’s doing as well as he is. The worst-case scenario would have ended his athletic career. Now we’re guardedly optimistic that he’s going to come out of this better than we thought. The immediate concern is to get him out of (intensive care), get him back in school and begin the process of healing."

In addition to playing on offense and defense, Dare was a kick returner. Causey said Chase Bowlin will fill in at safety, and John Roberts and Newman Bailey among others will be called on to step up as receivers.

"Amazingly, Parker’s attitude has been upbeat and positive from the time it happened," Cain said. "He’s just a super, positive, energetic young man. I think all of this is going to do nothing but help his recovery."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.