The same injury, against the same team, at about the same point in the game took out Keller’s leading rusher this year.
But a second ligament tear to Liam Ardigo against McKinney — for the second year in a row — hasn’t slowed the Indians’ offense. And in fact, it may have spurred the team to develop an attack just as effective.
It’s insane. I guess I’m not meant to play anymore. I’m going to stick with shot put.
Liam Ardigo on suffering almost the same injury at the same time as he did in 2016
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The tandem has helped Keller make a resurgent effort to compete for a playoff spot this year.
Smith had caught six of Henry’s 10 touchdown passes heading into the district game with Keller Central.
Ardigo still had the team’s second-most number of carries before the Central game.
Following the recent ACL tear to Ardigo’s right knee, he stayed positive, saying, “It’s all good. It’s part of the game.”
He said the injury happened in the same quarter and with about the same amount of time left as when he was injured last year against McKinney.
“It’s insane,” Ardigo said. “I guess I’m not meant to play anymore. I’m going to stick with shot put. I made area last year, so I hope to make it to regionals this year.”
Not that the injury was a blessing, but it was maybe the catalyst for the more rapid emergence of the passing game at Keller.
Henry and Smith said they knew this offense would be a passing team coming into the season, but timing is what it is.
“We definitely do miss Liam and it was a big setback as he was a big part of the offense,” Smith said. “We have to step up do our job every week.”
Smith also filled in at quarterback when Henry was held out because of a concussion earlier in the season.
Smith is likely one of few Class 6A players to have passed for and caught multiple touchdowns. He has two passing touchdowns.
Having that quarterback perspective helps in the relationship between Henry and Smith.
“Damon knows the quarterback perspective is totally different. You have to see every receiver,” Henry said. “If I make the wrong read, he understands.”
And it’s not like the running game has run up the white flag in the Keller backfield.
Enoch Ntchobo, Devin Collins and Tate Pressley are picking up where Ardigo left off.
Now the passing game is working efficiently. Other receivers, including Oliver Taylor, Michael Anderson and Colton Nelson are stepping up.
“The game is slowing down and I’m seeing things quicker and I’m better at reading the corners. The offense is coming along,” Henry said.