- Alma School District
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Gritty Birchfield glad to be back 8/8/22
Gritty Birchfield glad to be back
By Kevin Taylor
The look on Reagan Birchfield’s face told the story within the story.
“It was bad for me last year to stand there, because I couldn’t stand it, really,” Birchfield said. “Being back, it’s a relief, really. I feel like I can be more of a team leader out there.”
In the early weeks of the summer of 2021, before the Arkansas heat began to bore down on finely tuned green yards, Birchfield hurt his knee during a 7-on-7 game. The kid who was holding snakes before he was playing with trucks, tried to play it off.
Alma moved ahead with him.
But the longer he tried to play, the worse it was for him and his teammates.
Alma coach Rusty Bush could see the pain on his face.
"He tried to go three or four games, but he couldn't do it,” Bush said. “(But) that tells you what type of kid he is and how important this football team is to him. I told our staff, that as soon as he got hurt, it wasn't so much losing Reagan Birchfield the player, it was losing Reagan Birchfield's presence on the field.
“That's probably the biggest thing that happened to us.”
How tough? In three games, Birchfield ran for 38 yards on 12 carries and scored three touchdowns. Despite the nagging pain, Birchfield also managed 17 tackles and had one of the team’s seven quarterback sacks.
"It really honestly wasn't that bad," Birchfield said of the pain. "There were moments when it did hurt, but I was like, 'It's just a little pain and I'll be fine.'
"I just had to deal with it."
Birchfield did everything asked of Alma athletic trainer Patti Webb. And, though Bush and his staff held their breath at times during the spring, the kid in the No. 5 jersey is back.
"He's a tough, hard-nosed kid," Bush said. "He knows what we're doing offensively and defensively. He's obviously a great football player, but his presence is what makes us a better football team.”
"It's a lot of fun to be back," he said. "Last year, not being there, I was bored and had nothing to do. But this year, being back, you really want to go 100 percent, because you don't want to take it for granted."
The brotherhood that bonds the team is as tight as ever, Birchfield said.
"They mean the world to me," he said. "Not being able to play last year, and now being back out there, means the world to me. These are the best times of your life. Being there is the best."
Having Birchfield in the middle of the defense is big for Bush and his coaches, too.
"It's huge for our team," added Bush. "He tried to go three or four games, but he couldn't do it. (But) that tells you what type of kid he is and how important this football team is to him. I told our staff that as soon as he got hurt, it wasn't so much losing Reagan Birchfield the player, it was losing Reagan Birchfield's presence on the field. That's probably the biggest thing that happened to us.”