FRISCO — It was a simple play, one that Liberty Christian quarterback Foster Ford had executed time and time again during the season.
One third-and-1 at the Liberty 45, during the second quarter Saturday afternoon against Addison Trinity Christian, Ford ran a keeper to the right and bulled his way forward for a 3-yard gain and a first down. He nearly lost the ball as he was sandwiched by a couple of defenders and tackled.
But when Ford ran off the field nursing his right elbow, he knew something was wrong. The hit to the “funny bone” in his elbow would affect his performance the rest of the night and play a key factor in the Warriors’ 55-10 loss in the second round of the TAPPS playoffs at Frisco’s Memorial Stadium.
“I still can’t feel anything,” said a dejected Ford after the game, pointing to his elbow. “It got a little better, but I was just never able to feel comfortable.”
Ford went to the sideline after the injury and, with the help of trainers, stretched his arm. He couldn’t grab the ball at first, but while backup Travis Ball ran the offense for two possessions, Ford worked to regain feeling in his arm while taking snaps on the sideline.
When he returned, his first pass fluttered coming out. He fumbled two snaps in a row at one point. In the end, he would complete only six of 19 passes for 30 yards and three interceptions. His 12-yard pass to Cody Hughes in the second quarter was the Warriors’ only touchdown. Ford also rushed for 11 yards on five carries.
The 10 points were the fewest scored in a game this season by the Warriors, who finished 7-5.
“There were a couple of balls that wouldn’t have sailed on me like they did, but I think more than anything it took away the confidence of the coaches to throw the ball,” Ford said. “That’s one of the best teams in the state. They’ve got good speed and a defense that can make big plays.”
Warriors coach Greg Price said he did consider sticking with Ball, but in the end went back to Ford.
“We were going to go with our starter,” Price said. “He had the most preparation, and he gave us the best chance to win. By halftime he was getting more and more feeling in his hand. We had to load up on the run.”
Just a month ago, Ford continually found ways to keep his team in the contest against TCA, coming within one touchdown pass of sending the district game into overtime.
He finished that game with one rushing touchdown and two touchdowns on 172 yards through the air. But the Warriors were simply outmatched Saturday.
For the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Ford, Saturday’s effort was not the finish he envisioned after the consistent season he had. After playing receiver last year as a junior, he stepped up as the starting quarterback. He entered the playoff game with 1,544 passing yards and was third on the team with 210 rushing yards. He had thrown 18 touchdown passes with seven interceptions and scored six rushing touchdowns.
“I kind of expected to have a good season. … That’s what I expected of myself,” he said. “I wish we could have gone on in the playoffs. This team has overcome so much. We had injuries to some of our starters and other guys just stepped up.”
While football came to an end Saturday, the best may be yet to come Ford. He’s a four-sport star at Liberty Christian and will now report to basketball. Then he’s off to track and then his best sport, baseball, where he hopes to continue playing in college at shortstop.
“This is not the way we wanted to end,” Ford said. “I love these guys. They played hard every play. I’m proud of them.”