I can’t go as far to call it tragic, but I was deeply saddened to wake up Friday morning and read Archie Anderson’s social media post about Drew Puccio suffering a broken leg in the Arab seventh grade team’s game at West End on Thursday (the eighth grade team didn’t play).
Technically, it was a dislocated knee and broken femur. Regardless, he’s done for the season and won’t be fully recovered until about Christmas, meaning he can play other sports before next football season.
“He had only minor pain overnight and after a little physical therapy Friday morning, he should be coming home,” Archie further reported. “Certainly tough days are ahead but it could have been worse.
“Great ballplayer and a great kid from a great family.”
I don’t think it’s any secret about the first part. Drew had been a standout already this football season and that sport may not even be his best. He’s pretty good in basketball and baseball, too.
And he certainly comes from a great family, as anyone who knows Phil and Misty Puccio would know. Not only are they great participants in Arab athletics – Phil as a coach and Misty as the cheerleader coach – they’re trying to raise Drew the right way.
After talking to Phil about Drew’s first big game (against Fort Payne), he asked me to not make too big a deal out of it. Wants his son to be humble. That’s admirable.
But it was too late. The paper had already been printed as we spoke that particular Friday night.
The next week, well, there was little I could do about downplaying Drew’s performance against Albertville. Not after he rushed for 153 yards and accounted for five touchdowns.
Drew, despite the injury, is a rising star. But he’ll stay grounded because he has great parents.
Now, what you might not know – and I didn’t learn until the night of Arab’s opener at Boaz – Drew is also wise and mature beyond his years. That Friday night – and every Friday night since and I assume going forward – Drew sits with the coaches in the press box for the varsity game.
This isn’t some prize given to a kid because his dad is a coach. Drew wears a headset and listens to the coaches and watches the game, just as the other coaches in the press box. One day, Drew likely will quarterback the varsity Knights, and he’ll be ready perhaps as much as any quarterback in school history.
This is a fine young man with a great football mind, and it’s astute that head coach Lee Ozmint and offensive coordinator Michael Darden (and others) recognize this trait in him. By putting him in the press box on Friday nights, it makes him all the more likely to be successful in the coming years.
I add my best wishes to Archie’s and hope Drew is able to fully recover and get back on the playing surface soon.
• Talk about a trade that mattered. The Braves’ Dallas Keuchel, since the trade deadline, has started four games against NL East contenders Phillies, Mets and Nationals, and in those games the Braves are 4-0 and Keuchel has allowed one earned run in 25 innings.