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Tough breaks plague St. Joseph QB

09/05/2015, 11:59am PDT
By Terry Monahan

Broken hand is latest in litany of injuries stalking team’s leader

St. Joseph senior Johnny De La Torre has broken four bones during his high school football career.

— Injuries have haunted quarterback-middle linebacker Johnny De La Torre throughout his 8-man football career at St. Joseph Academy.

He can’t seem to escape the rash of broken bones.

His freshman year was shortened to just three games by a broken collarbone.

Everything went well sophomore year. De La Torre played in all eight games.

Then came last season. Though he was named to the All-Sunset League second team despite playing just four games, the 6-foot, 165-pounder was hurt the entire year.

He suffered a broken left hand, his non-throwing hand, before the season opener. He played anyway. But the day the doctors declared the fracture healed, he broke his left leg during a practice.

De La Torre was confined to a wheelchair for a month. He had the leg placed in a long cast for a month and finally in a boot for a month.

“No, that hit in practice was not worth it,” De La Torre said. “Watching every game slip away and there was nothing I could do about it.

“While my teammates ran onto the field, I had to be wheeled across the field.

“I’ve been drinking as much chocolate milk as I can to strengthen my bones.”

All the rehab work paid off as De La Torre returned to the field for this season’s opener Aug. 28 against Wildomar Cornerstone Christian. It was his first game in nearly a year.

He felt like he’d never left. It was the culmination of not only tons of work but a desire to play football once again.

St. Joseph downed Cornerstone Christian 28-8 with its on-the-field leader back in play.

But the injury bug popped up again. De La Torre broke his throwing hand on the first play from scrimmage when his hand struck an opponent’s helmet. He played the whole game and even threw a TD pass.

Following surgery last Tuesday, De La Torre will be sidelined at least six weeks.

“I remember we had a hitting drill that first practice this year and when I hit my teammate it was the best feeling ever,” De La Torre said. “The drill lasted about 10 minutes and I wish it could have gone on longer.

“My sister believes that if volleyball was easy they’d call it football. She has a T-shirt with that saying on it. I got really mad when she said that about my sport.

“Coming back out under the lights was the most exciting feeling. I really missed that feeling. It was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”

Now De La Torre is back on the sidelines after his fourth broken bone as a Crusader.

“He has the best leadership quality we’ve ever had at this school,” Crusaders coach Tom Davis said. “He’s the typical gym rat type of kid.

“I wish I knew what the plan was for Johnny and why he’s going through this. If we only had 11 Johnnys, we’d go undefeated.”

Instead, De La Torre’s playing career at St. Joseph spans just 16 games as he begins yet another healing process.

“If it was part of the master plan, all I can do is accept it and move on,” De La Torre said. “Watching last year made me hungry. It helped really get me focused on the game.

“I watched a ton of film. I know what we do better than I ever did. I also know more about what to look for from other teams.”

Now if he can just stay healthy.

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