By BEAU WICKER
— Pioneer senior quarterback Mitchell Williams knew this could be a special season for the Panthers, who are a perennial small-school power in football.
“My grade has always talked about winning state,” Williams said, “and now I can’t be there for them.
“I just feel so bad.”
Williams had surgery Wednesday to repair a broken and dislocated left wrist on his non-throwing hand and will miss the rest of the football season.
“The doctor said it was 25 percent displaced,” Williams said.
A dislocated wrist can be a dangerous injury and Williams said it could have been worse. He said the doctors told him he will be able to return to athletics in 2-3 months.
He’s also a key starter on Pioneer’s three-time defending sectional champion boys basketball team. He hopes to return to the court by mid-December.
“I’m going to miss the first couple games,” he said. “I think we should make a deep tournament run.”
Williams’ break in his wrist was along the growth plate. He said he’s grown quite a bit in recent years and is now 6-foot-4, 165 pounds.
Williams also started in the secondary for the Pioneer football team. He said he was making a tackle on defense when he got injured during friendly fire.
“I was going to tackle a guy on defense and wrapped him up, and Stephen Whitlock came over to help me,” he said. “His shoulder pads went straight into my wrist and dislocated it and fractured it. I thought at first it was a bad stinger because it was so cold out. Then I looked down at my fingers and could tell it didn’t look right.”
Williams said following the surgery, his wrist was too swollen to be put in a cast until next Monday. He said his doctor said not to return to school until Tuesday, but that he plans on attending Friday’s big game at Class A No. 8 West Central (8-0) as a fan. Pioneer (7-1) is ranked fourth and is working on a 46-game Midwest Conference winning streak.
“It’s a big loss for us,” Pioneer coach Mike Johnson said. “Certainly not only on offense with his leadership but on the defensive side at cornerback, where he was really starting to come around. He was just starting to feel a little better with his Achilles, which was still bothering him, to play defense at corner. He was starting to play the ball like he did last year.”
Freshman Sam Kiser will move from halfback to quarterback.
“Whitlock will stay at tight end,” Johnson said. “We’ve moved our fullback from the JV, Justin Mersch, up to the varsity. He’s got some toughness and got some savvy.”
Johnson said Kiser will move over to cornerback to fill in for Williams there as well, and that there will be a rotation of three players filling in at safety.
Pioneer senior lineman Josh Lytle said Williams will be missed on the field.
“I hate to see our quarterback go down, or any player go down, especially a senior player like Mitchell. He’s a really big part of our team,” he said. “I’m glad we have a backup who can step up and play. It’s not the same as having Mitchell. It’s never good losing a player who has played for so long and who’s a good friend of yours.”