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SF football player beats broken leg to catch stunning touchdown in return game

Sacred Heart Cathedral wide receiver Isaiah Keishk (2) catches a touchdown during the second quarter of the Fightin' Irish's 24-17 loss to St. Francis in Mountain View on Oct. 7, 2022. | Courtesy Mona Fowler

Nearly every high school football player can say they’ve overcome obstacles throughout their career, but few can match Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Isaiah Keishk.

A 5-foot-9 wide receiver, Keishk broke a bone in his leg during the first week of practice before his senior year, causing him to miss the first five games of the season.

“It was supposed to be maybe four weeks at first,” he said of his injury. “It ended up being eight weeks, but it’s a blessing to be back out there.”

He returned to the field Friday against St. Francis, catching five passes for 100 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown over the middle from quarterback Aidan McGrath, in a 24-17 loss.

“I knew he was gonna come back ready to go,” head coach Antoine Evans said. “It’s huge. Now we’ve got a threat in the slot.”

‘With Football, It Doesn’t Matter if You Stutter’

The physical injury isn’t the only hurdle that Keishk has dealt with. He also has a speech impediment, which has affected his confidence throughout his adolescence.

“Sometimes it’s tough,” he admitted. “But with football, it doesn’t matter if you stutter. You just put the pads on and play, and it’s all good. It’s crazy.”

Sacred Heart Cathedral running back Kendric Sanders (5) races along the sideline for a 71-yard touchdown during the fourth quarter of a 35-7 win over Burlingame at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco on Sept. 9, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Keishk isn’t the only member of the Fightin’ Irish who stutters. Running back Kendric Sanders, who raced for a 67-yard touchdown in SHC’s first win over Valley Christian since 2008, also has a speech impediment.

“It’s tough doing class presentations,” Sanders said. “But after a while, you have to try to just adapt to it.”

Those hardships haven’t stopped Keishk or Sanders from excelling in the classroom. Keishk is enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) Government and has a 3.8 grade point average, while Sanders, who has a 3.6, is enrolled in both AP Government and AP Statistics. Both are receiving interest from Division I football programs, including UC Davis and Sacramento State. Sac State is currently ranked fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-A.

A subsection of successful athletes have overcome stutters and other speech impediments, including basketball legend Bill Walton, who now works as a color commentator for ESPN. 

George Springer, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 World Series with the Houston Astros and now plays for the Toronto Blue Jays, has been public about his challenges, even when he conducted an in-game interview during the 2017 All-Star Game.

Keishk and Sanders will be on the field before a crowd of between six and eight thousand fans on Friday night as Sacred Heart Cathedral (3-3, 1-2 West Catholic Athletic League) faces rival St. Ignatius (2-4, 1-2) in the Bruce-Mahoney Game at Kezar Stadium. Tickets are currently available for $15, though the price will rise to $20 on Friday.