Good Counsel senior running back Leo Ekwoge will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Western Michigan commit sustained the left knee injury when he was tackled at the end of a long run during the second quarter of the Falcons’ 20-14 season-opening loss to Gilman.
Ekwoge received the MRI results on Tuesday, but as he leaned on crutches with an ice pack wrapped around his knee during the second half of last week’s game, he knew that the injury was serious.
“When I cut, I felt my knee buckle and it hurt for like five minutes,” Ekwoge said. “I thought I’d be fine, but then it started hurting a lot again and the trainers told me that night they were projecting it was an ACL injury.”
The news is a big blow to a Good Counsel offense that graduated its top rusher, receiver and quarterback from a year ago. With Ekwoge on the field, the Falcons’ offense looked strong, putting up 14 points in 1 minute, 8 seconds of possession in the first quarter. Ekwoge rushed for 72 yards on three carries, including a 54-yard touchdown. Without Ekwoge, the Falcons gained just 119 yards in the second half and eventually lost their first in-state game since 2010.
“Losing Leo is devastating; it’s as simple as that,” Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy said. “Leo was our guy on offense. To lose him period is horrible. To lose him after one quarter is really bad.”
Ekwoge has already started rehab and will have surgery to repair his ACL in the coming weeks. The length of recovery time will depend on how Ekwoge’s body responds to the operation and rehab, with doctors telling him it could take anywhere from 4-6 months. Ekwoge’s goal is to be fully recovered and ready to compete with Western Michigan during the 2014 season.
“I talked to the [Western Michigan] coaches and they said they know what I can do and I’m family now,” Ekwoge said. “They just want me to get healthy and get better.”
Good Counsel will now turn to senior running back Perry Stefanelli, who gained 97 yards on 21 carries in the loss, and senior fullback Chris Dawson, who rushed for 57 yards and whom Milloy said will likely take Ekwoge’s place in Good Counsel’s single-back formations. Sophomore Jonathan Lee will also move up the depth chart to give the Falcons more firepower in the backfield.
“I’ve always said that the team that wins the championship is the one that has the best second team,” Milloy said. “You can lose a guy almost every week to something, so you have to have guys ready to step up and perform.”
Ekwoge and the Falcons are in Florida for the team’s contest against Immokalee on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“I was sad about it but I know me being sad wouldn’t fix anything, so I put a smile on my face and I’m here helping with the younger guys because I’m still part of the team.” Ekwoge said. “I know if I had played the whole game against Gilman, we would have won.”