Connor Beeson went through some agility drills last Wednesday afternoon as the rigorous recovery process continues for the Patrick Henry High School sophomore.
It’s been nearly five months since Beeson broke the fibula and tibia in his right leg — along with suffering a torn ligament — during the fourth quarter of PH’s 41-16 loss to Galax in the VHSL Class 1 state football semifinals at Emory & Henry College’s Fred Selfe Stadium.
The nightmare scenario unfolded when Galax running back Denver Brown broke into the open field and collided with Beeson, a defensive back for the Rebels.
“He took it up the middle, and he kind of busted it out left, and I didn’t think any of my teammates were going to get there, so I dropped my shoulder, and about that same time, my teammate, Isaac Chaffin, hit him from the back,” Beeson said. “The force of both of them put my ankle in an awkward position.”
The pain was immediate and severe.
“I heard the crack of the bones, and I immediately knew something wasn’t right, and when I pulled my leg out from under me, there was an obvious break. I just wasn’t sure of what,” Beeson said. “I really only had two thoughts — I couldn’t believe that the season was over and how long this recovery process was going to be.”
Several Galax players in the vicinity of Beeson immediately waved for the trainer.
A referee urgently motioned for PH coach Mark Palmer to come on the field.
Beeson’s leg was bent at an angle that legs aren’t supposed to bend.
“Pretty gruesome,” said PH linebacker Chase Brown. “I was beside him covering his eyes so he couldn’t see his foot and so he could try and remain calm.”
The game was delayed with 5:23 remaining in the fourth quarter as Beeson was tended to and taken via stretcher from the field and then loaded on a MedFlight helicopter headed for Bristol Regional Medical Center.
“I don’t remember much after they carted me off the field,” Beeson said. “I remember them cutting everything off me and getting me on a backboard to get into the helicopter and the spectacular sunset.”
Surgery, performed by Gabriel Hommel, required a plate and eight screws in his ankle and a band to stabilize the torn ligament.
Rehabilitating such an injury can be mentally and physically taxing, requiring a positive outlook and a strong will.
Beeson also has had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the closure of schools since March. He puts in his work in virtual solitude.
“The rehab has been long, but I’ve had friends and family constantly helping and supporting me the whole way,” Beeson said. “Coming back from this has been tough. There have been ups and downs, but my family and friends and the outreach of the community in general has been amazing and has really inspired me to work harder to get back to where I was. If everything keeps going to plan, I should be back on the field soon.”
Beeson was a playmaker during the 2019 season as Patrick Henry had the best season in program history. A 13-1 record, a Hogoheegee District championship and a Region 1D title were among the milestones for the Rebels.
A speedy 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back and cornerback, Beeson’s stat line included 578 rushing yards, 58 receiving yards, 198 kickoff return yards, 109 punt return yards, 47 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery and eight total touchdowns.
“Connor is a great running back,” Brown said. “When there is a hole open and he sees it, he is gonna be gone. I don’t think there is a defense that could catch him in the previous season. He will play a big role on our team this coming up season for multiple reasons.”
Those who know Beeson are confident he’ll be back in fine form.
“I think without a doubt he is going to return and be better than ever,” said Mark Palmer, who recently accepted the job at Anderson County in Kentucky after nine seasons at PH. “He is going to be an inspiration to anyone that sustains a serious injury and comes back to play at a high level.”
Beeson keeps his eye on the prize as he prepares for his return to the gridiron.
The ultimate goal was in his thoughts as he worked out on Wednesday.
“Getting back on the field is all I think about,” Beeson said. “It’s what’s motivated me to keep consistently working hard.”