A Riordan junior has returned home from hospital after a shocking hit likely ended his high school football career.
Saturday’s season-opening win over Granada was soured by the entanglement between a Matadors player and Riordan’s Aidan Laxa, who was stretchered off the field after being thrown to the ground in an unnecessary move.
Had the game ended under normal circumstances, the Riordan Crusaders would have arrived to practice on Monday committed to slashing the turnovers and penalties that held them back in game one.
Instead, they arrived concerned about Laxa, who was on the field to protect for a punt after Isiah Chala booted the ball more than 30 yards downfield. Laxa was ultimately taken to the ground, directly in front of the referee. But no flag was thrown on the play and Laxa was unable to get up.
Trainers and coaches attended to the junior, and though he was conscious and had movement in all of his extremities, he was visibly dazed.
Most importantly, he felt tingling in his spine, an instant red flag. Head athletic trainer Erin Stovall instructed Laxa to stay on the ground, and the junior was stretchered off the field by paramedics and loaded into an ambulance.
“[He had a] possible injury to head, neck and spine, [he was] spineboarded and sent to the emergency room to rule out significant injury to those areas,” said Riordan trainer Erin Stovall, who added Laxa is now home and resting. He did not attend school on Monday, but is expected to return later in the week.
With the Crusaders on their way to a comfortable win, Riordan head coach Adhir Ravipati requested the game be called out of concern for further fights or injuries.
Laxa was discharged the following day, but the concussion he suffered is his second in a month.
Ravipati confirmed that the injury ended Laxa’s season, and it’s unlikely he will play as a senior.
“The play is clearly over, the whistle is blown, and my kid gets slammed into the ground and his football career [likely] ends,” Ravipati said.
As of Tuesday, Ravipati said no member of the Matadors’ team or coaching staff has reached out to Riordan’s football program or administration for an update on Laxa’s status, or to apologize or express their concern for his well-being. Granada head coach Marc Moses’s account of events differed; he said his staff reached out on Sunday.
“I didn’t see it first-hand because the play was going away from everybody,” Moses told The Standard when asked about the play itself.
The season may barely be a week old, but the Crusaders have already been involved with a pair of on-field incidents. Their scrimmage against Tennyson-Hayward on Aug. 19 was called early after a post-play confrontation between a Riordan defensive back and Tennyson wide receiver sent the Tennyson bench spilling onto the field.
“Hopefully we’ll have a more normal game against Tamalpais,” Ravipati said.
The Silicon Valley Sports Officials Association did not comment on the lack of a penalty flag on the play.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]