Football ...

Laurel High football player Austen Smith is recovering after a serious injury Saturday.

Smith was carrying the ball late in the third quarter of a junior varsity football game at Freedom. He was tackled by a Bulldogs defender and the ball got between him, the ground and the kid landing on top of him. All of that pressure was on his spleen and the artery going to his spleen.

A 5-foot-6 125 pound freshman running back/inside linebacker, Smith was taken by ambulance and then flown by medical helicopter to Children’s Hospital. He had a laceration from the artery going to the spleen, causing him to bleed internally.

Smith, a son of Alicia and Mark Smith, underwent surgery Saturday. He was released from the intensive care unit yesterday to a regular room.

“He’s a great kid and a hard worker,” said first-year Laurel coach Brian Cooper. “He’s one of those guys that you love in practice; he’s going hard all the time. He truly loves the game.”

“The community just poured out to us,” Alicia Smith said. “The news spread kind of quickly because it was a serious injury. We got phone calls and texts.

“Coach Cooper and coach (Bill Allmann) came down and visited him. They stayed a couple of hours. We have felt so loved and cared about by people we don’t even know. This has been so touching to us. We just thank God that it turned out this way. He’s still in quite a bit of pain, but they’re managing it much better and the bleeding has stopped. He’s making a turn for the better.”

Laurel’s JV team won the game, 12-8 to improve to 1-2.

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