Heading into his team’s first game since losing senior running back Michael Plummer to a scary head injury last week at Peru, Northwestern football coach John Hendryx knew replacing Plummer’s leadership would be impossible.
But, one thing the Purple Tigers possess is depth, so in Monday’s initial team meeting ahead of Friday’s regular season finale with Eastern, Hendryx went to the chalk board and wrote “130” big enough for everyone to see. That was the amount of yardage, give or take, Pummer had accounted for per game in the squad’s first eight contests. Hendryx challenged his team to pick up the slack and make up for the production by committee.
Plummer’s senior teammates picked up the slack. Curtis Townsend, Keegan Fessenden and Tanner Wildrick combined to run for 349 yards and six touchdowns in Northwestern’s 48-20 win over the Comets on senior night, a game in which the Tigers built a 41-0 lead by the middle of the third quarter.
That wasn’t the only good news for the team. Plummer was released from the hospital early Friday, and will begin rehabilitation at a local facility.
”It was a difficult week, but it wasn’t really difficult football-wise,” Hendryx said. “Football was pretty secondary all week. It was all just about Michael getting better, and we thank God he did get a little bit better every day. From a football standpoint, we just did what we do and didn’t change anything. I have to give the kids credit. I told the seniors they’re a bunch that have had to go through stuff that normal 17-, 18-year-olds have not. They lost a teammate [Kalin Storie to a car accident in the spring], then have what happened last Friday. These guys went from being little boys to being grown men last spring, and I just commend them for getting through all of that.”