GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — South Christian senior quarterback Ty Rynbrandt thought his high school football career was over when he broke his collarbone in his team’s playoff opener.
However, a pause to the football playoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic has created a potential opportunity for him to return.
The Sailors will face top-ranked and unbeaten Edwardsburg (8-0) in Saturday night’s Division 4 regional finals.
“When the governor shut us down again, I kind of knew there was a chance based on the fact of if we were going to resume later on,” Rynbrandt said. “I thought in the back of my mind there might be a chance that I’ll be able to play because I might be cleared by then.”
“I was super excited about that, but I felt terrible for my teammates (at that time) because I know what it’s like to lose a season. It’s not fun,” he added.
Rynbrandt fractured his collarbone against Kelloggsville and surgery soon followed. The soonest timetable for recovery was six to eight weeks.
“It was hard to accept, but I looked past it because I knew I couldn’t change where I was at, and I had to make the most of the situation I was in,” Rynbrandt said. “I had to help the team in any way that I could at that time because it didn’t look like I would be able to play again.”
South Christian coach Danny Brown said he’s thrilled that Rynbrandt has a chance to possibly play.
“I’m excited for Ty just to have the opportunity to complete his senior season because, obviously, when he went out in week one of the playoffs, no one would’ve thought this would be an opportunity,” Brown said. “We’re blessed, and he’s blessed to have the opportunity to be able to do it. But it’s just the hurdles and the process of going through everything to try and get to that point.”
“He’s gone through PT but hasn’t taken any hits. As we get closer and start ramping things up in practice, we will see how it’s going,” he said.
While Rynbrandt’s status for Saturday’s game is still up in the air, sophomore Jake DeHaan has proven to be a capable backup and will lead the offense if Rynbrandt cannot play.
DeHaan, who spent the season as the starting quarterback for the junior varsity, stepped in and helped lead the Sailors to back-to-back playoffs wins.
DeHaan tossed a school-record seven touchdowns in South Christian’s 56-14 win over Hamilton in the district finals.
“We’re in a unique situation because we’re blessed to have had two kids play quarterback for us and both performed very well,” Brown said. “We feel very confident in whoever is going to play and nothing changes from a scheme standpoint. We’ve been implementing our game plan with both guys getting reps. We will see how to shakes out in the next couple days.”
South Christian senior linebacker Connor Dykema said Rynbrandt has been the consummate team player throughout his ordeal.
“He’s been doing a great job with recovering and his arm strength is coming back,” he said. “He’s really pouring into the sophomore quarterback we have and helping him out a ton. He’s been a great leader for the team still and he realizes he might not play and he’s OK with that. He realizes he has an injury but is going to do whatever it takes to play because he loves football.”
South Christian enters Saturday’s matchup with an 8-1 record. It’s lone loss (28-27) was to OK Gold conference champion Catholic Central.
The Sailors will face a stern test against the Eddies, who have lost only one game in the last three years and won a state title in 2018.
“Obviously one of the better opponents we will have played this year and they have a tradition of excellence,” Brown said. “We played them in 2014 in the semifinals and we won that game, but that started their run of being in the finals and semifinals and going far in the playoffs every year since. They know who they are, they know how to win, and they are very physical.”
“Edwardsburg is a very good team,” Rynbrandt said. “They are very big and physical and have had a lot of success in the past. We’re looking forward to the challenge and we feel pretty good about it. We know that we’re a good team as well, and it should be a really good game.”
Here are the regional matchups involving area teams.
- Division 1: Saline (8-1) at Rockford (7-0); 1 p.m.
- Division 2: Mona Shores (9-0) at East Lansing (8-0); 1 p.m
- Division 3: East Grand Rapids (6-3) at Muskegon (8-1); 1 p.m.
- Division 4: Forest Hills Eastern (6-3) at Cadillac (6-2); South Christian (8-1) at Edwardsburg (8-0); 7 p.m.
- Division 5: Muskegon Oakridge (7-2) at Catholic Central (8-0); Noon.
- Division 6: Montrose (8-1) at Montague (9-0); 1 p.m.