Saturday at AT&T Stadium in the continuation of the festival of Texas High School Football Championship Games, the Class 5A Division I contest featured Highland Park defeating Temple 16-7 as Highland Park, quarterbacked by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' grandson John Stephen Jones, took home the title.
That could have been Oklahoma State 2018 quarterback pledge Spencer Sanders and his Denton Ryan teammates. They had played Highland Park the week before, unbeaten and favored, until a second quarter play where Sanders rolled out and with several HP defenders on his back and around him, his right knee buckled. Sanders wasn't able to return and Highland Park won a close game, 31-24, in the late minutes of the contest.
Sanders had a birthday this week and also found out that the knee injury, as feared, will be necessary after tearing his ACL. Sanders confirmed the diagnosis and also shared he would have surgery to repair the knee on Friday in a text message to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
After the game, Spencer had described the injury as a case of defenders piling on his back. He went to the locker room and then came back for the second half but stood on the sidelines with crutches.
“It was more that there were people on my back,” Sanders said after the game to the Denton Record-Chronicle. “I was crouching, and I guess it was just too much pressure on my knee and I went down on it. Whatever it is, it will be fixed.”
“It’s a tough break for Spencer, and it was obviously a tough break for our team,” Ryan coach Dave Henigan said, also to the Denton Record-Chronicle. “We’re all disappointed, but the blessing is that it’s only his ACL. I’m not trying to downplay the ACL part — I’m just saying that it could have been a lot worse with more ligament damage. Spencer has the right mentality. He will be back.”
Sanders has experience as he tore his left ACL during his freshman season at Ryan and he came back from that in excellent condition. He came back from that injury and led the Raiders into the playoffs as a sophomore in 2015 with a 13-1 season.
“The normal recovery time is six months,” Henigan told the paper. “Spencer has great work ethic, he’s tough and he’s got good muscle structure. So I’m sure he will have a great rehab. The other benefit is we won’t have spring ball, so he’s got time.”
Sanders, who attended the Mary Hardin-Baylor satellite camp that Oklahoma State participated in at Hurst's L.D. Bell High School this summer and worked with Oklahoma State quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, has had a good relationship with OSU, attending several games, and he made his early commitment in October this fall.
Scout has him ranked as one of the top 20 quarterback prospects in the 2018 class and he is classified by Scout as a 4-star player. This season he passed for 3,258 yards, ran for 1,099 yards and accounted for 56 total touchdowns this season.
This research from the Denton Record-Chronicle, Denton Ryan (14-1) is 32-7 over the last three seasons. In four of those losses, Sanders either didn’t finish the game or didn’t play at all due to injury.