The game was out of hand, as the Paris Eagle baseball team played on the road at Lamar. Then, while playing against one of the top teams in the conference, the Eagles got hot. They pulled close, and Ethan Needham was stretching out a play taking third base when it happened. The steel cleats did not mesh with the rubber of the bag, and an awkward skid across the base resulted in a season-ending knee injury. It appeared his senior football season might be in jeopardy as well.
Needham is back in uniform and wearing a protective brace on the knee. While it is not 100 percent, his heart is. He wants to see the improvement in his senior year that they have all worked hard to achieve. Needham anchors the offensive line at center and snaps the ball to a Sophomore quarterback this season. Alongside him on the line are several new faces, but as Needham says, we should be stronger upfront. With the season winding down, Needham has seen most every offensive snap and helped lead the underclassmen around him.
Ethan has played football since the third grade, and if you asked him after the injury, there was no way he was going to miss his senior season. This is now their second year in the offensive scheme of Coach Clarke, and the transition is to the spread has been a tough but productive one.. While we saw the receiving game getting better in, Needham says the linemen have become much more familiar with the offensive set, understanding just how flexible the new system is. They now realize just how small of a section of the offense they installed a season ago. Now, the blocking schemes are becoming much more familiar, and the development is encouraging.
Paris has struggled with depth issues, so the consistency from Needham has been significant to the development of the team. He is a leader on and off of the field, serving as the Senior class president and preparing for his future. His determination and toughness have been tested. In an early-season game, someone with the knowledge of his previous injury focused on going low on Needham repeatedly. He made adjustments, kept his cool, and helped lead his team to a win.
Ethan is going to wear his mischievous grin into and out of every game this season, knowing he has given it his all, and thankful that he can play the game he loves for another season in Eagle blue.