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Will Smiley out for the season, but still helping his Tornadoes

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Week one of the high season, Bay and Arnold at Tommy Oliver Stadium, the Tornadoes led at halftime, but then having to play the second half without their star quarterback, Will Smiley. The Tornadoes won that night, but lost their starting quarterback and defensive back!

“I knew as soon as the first pop, I knew something was up. I knew as soon as it started getting stiff, and it felt very different from my other knee.” Smiley told me, as we talked about his knee injury back in week one of the season. At some point in the second quarter of a game he was playing great in. Smiley tore the ACL in his right knee. Certainly, that kind of injury is an athlete’s nightmare! “I was very upset. I was literally on the sideline crying, but I wasn’t crying because of my injury.” Will says “I was crying because I wanted to finish my season. I wanted to play with my team.”

“I felt horrible for him” Bay Head Coach Keith Bland said of Will “because he has worked so hard and he is that leader, and he’s just everything you want as a coach, there early, there on time, works hard, and holds his teammates accountable.” Despite the setback, Will’s commitment to his team remains staunch. The following week there he was on the sideline...coaching his teammates. “100 percent, I’m still going to be there for my team.” Smiley insists. “Even though I’m not physically on the field, I can still physically help them, mental, reps, and all that.” “He has every excuse because of that injury to miss or be late, but he hasn’t yet.” adds coach Bland. “Even after the injury, on that Monday, he’s still the first one out there, pre-practice, talking to the kids about throwing and catching and doing those things.” I asked Will to tell me about the support he’s received, not only from his teammates, but also players from all around the county? “Oh, players all around have been there for me just looking out asking me if I need anything things like that. They’re always encouraging me people all around the county and stuff. I love them to death.” Will had surgery September 14th and will rehab for the next six to seven months with hopes of being back out next summer. “It’s my junior year, so I’ve got to take the recovery time seriously, get back, and hopefully my senior year will be my best year ever.” Adds coach Bland “He’s got a chip on his shoulder right now, but expect great things from him this season.” The Tornadoes have lost all three games since losing Smiley, now 1-3 on the season. They are back on the field Friday when they host North Bay Haven.

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