LAWRENCE — Deep in the right corner of the end zone, Ryan Etter extended his 6-foot-3 frame to the sky, leaping to his ultimate height. The Central Catholic senior snatched the football from the sky, falling in a tangle with a Hillie defender, to the turf. Somehow, he tapped a toe for his first ever varsity touchdown.
“Unbelievable!” screamed a fan on the Hillie’s sideline. If that fan had only known just how unbelievable it was.
“I still don’t know how I got the foot down,” said Etter, whose disbelief was cloaked in horror just two months ago.
On July 15, in the Central weight room, Etter nearly lost it all.
“My whole season, basically my whole life, was kind of hanging there,” said Etter, who had two fingers on his left hand smashed and nearly severed in an accident while spotting at the squat rack.
“One of my friends was trying to rack the weight (305 lbs.) but missed on one side. In the heat of the moment, I tried to save him, but my middle finger and my index finger got slammed between the weight and the rack.”
D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, Etter’s best friend on the team, was there the day it happened and will not forget the gruesome scene.
“The weight was falling down, Etter went to catch it,” said Drummond-Mayrie. “And after they got it racked back up, he looked at his fingers. They were basically hanging off. There was blood everywhere. It was disgusting.”
Etter was rushed into Boston in an ambulance.
“All I could do was wonder what was going to happen. Thankfully, when I got to the hospital, they took some x-rays and the doctors there let me know they could be fixed.”
Etter’s recovery has been nothing short of sensational. While the fingers have pins inserted in them and remain a bit stiff, the doctors tell him he has full function, and both look normal as well. Etter took it slowly in the preseason and even missed the Raider opener, making it back for the Hillie game Saturday.
“Watching these guys play and practice and not being able to do anything was tough,” said Etter, who lives in Merrimac, “Just being able to step on the field is unreal.”
But it took that 20-yard hookup from Mike Milano for it to really sink in. Etter was all the way back.
“In that heat of the moment, you just see how quickly things can change,” said Etter, who also competes in indoor and outdoor track for the Raiders, but may be planning a return to hoops. “From now on, I just cherish every moment.”
“At the end of the season he had the JV game of his life, which gave me hope for him for this year. Over the summer he really improved his running and he looked good in the summer before the accident happened,” said Raider coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “We don’t have any big receivers, so having him back is huge.”
Adamopoulos and Drummond-Mayrie both agree that Etter is a valuable team member, a great kid, they say.
“He’s the type of kid that would do anything for anybody,” said Drummond-Marie. “It’s just great to have him back.”
ANDOVER'S KOBELSKI ACROSS THE WAY In these parts, the Kobelski football legacy rates among the best ever ... at Central Catholic. But tomorrow night at Veterans Stadium, the Raiders will get a good look at Greg Kobelski Jr. of Andover, one of the stalwarts at fullback and linebacker for St John's Prep. Kobelski had a pair of TD in last week's St. John's win over Brockton. The senior's dad Greg was the first of four Kobelski brothers to play for the Raiders. One other Andover resident in the spotlight for the Prep will be Michael Geaslen, the first-year starter at quarterback, who is slated to play baseball at Northeastern University.