Then Brody Meeks.
The Lynn Bears are heading into the second-round of the state playoffs with more than 4,000 yards of offense on the sideline.
“There aren’t a lot of teams playing at this point without their starting quarterback and running back,” Lynn coach Philip Smith said.
That’s exactly the situation the Bears are in heading into Friday’s second-round game at seventh-ranked Collinsville (10-1). The game kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday from Collinsville’s Cagle Civitan Stadium.
Bell, Lynn’s starting running back, tore his ACL in Week 7. Meeks tore his ACL last Wednesday and had surgery on Monday. He missed last week’s playoff win.
Lynn (9-2) goes into the game minus two key playmakers, but Smith likes the Bears’ chances.
“We’re going to play. We’re not going to make excuses,” Smith said. “I don’t think (Collinsville) has faced the schedule that we have faced week in and week out. If we play the way we are capable of playing, I think we win the ball game.”
Last week Daniel Cagle, starting at quarterback for the first time, led Lynn to a game-winning score in the closing minutes of its 19-18 first-round playoff victory over Hackleburg. Cagle connected with Jacob Carson on a 35-yard touchdown pass for the deciding points.
“I can’t say enough about the job Daniel did. He had some reps at quarterback but they were mostly handing the ball off to run out the clock. He basically had one day of practice. We had to change the gameplan to fit his strengths,” Smith said.
“He started slow, but once he going going he played an outstanding ball game. He made some big plays down the stretch. Having a full week of practice will benefit him. I think he will be fine Friday night. The guys have responded well to him.”
Before going down to injury, Meeks had accounted for 32 touchdowns on the season (28 passing, four rushing).
Along with his 2,417 passing yards, he was also the Bears’ top rusher with 738 yards.
“It took me a while to get over that one,” Smith said of Meeks’ injury.
“It’s different. Brody took all the snaps the last two years. We were so comfortable with him. It was just a fluke injury. There wasn’t any contact. It sucked the life out of us for a while. We’ve definitely had our share of injuries. That’s a part of football I guess.”
Seventh-ranked Collinsville, the Class 1A, Region 7 champion, had trouble with Appalachian in the first round, edging the Eagles 21-14.
Collinsville’s lone loss this season came in a 12-7 decision to undefeated Ragland in the regular-season finale.
“They remind me of Shoals Christian,” Smith said. Lynn knocked off Shoals Christian in the season opener.
“They do some of the same exact things that Shoals does. They have better skill than Shoals, but they aren’t as big. They are 10-1 for a reason. Ragland scored on a pick six to beat them. That was about the only time all year that they’ve been behind. They haven’t had to play four quarters much. They are used to playing ahead. Hopefully we’ll be able to make some things happen early and put them in territory they aren’t used to being in. We’ve been in several tough battles so we’re not going to panic.”
The winner of Friday’s game faces the Berry-Ragland winner in the third round. A Lynn victory over Collinsville would give the Bears a home game in the third round.