Running back Chris Geaneas has emerged this fall as one of the top players for the Loudoun County High School football team, which went 7-3 overall and is making its first playoff appearance since 1996.
But despite all the wins, one loss still plagues him.
On Dec. 17, Geaneas was at a friend's house, along with his older brother by two years, Mike. The three were shooting pellet guns, and Geaneas had taken off his goggles to reload his gun. The next thing he heard was a shot, then he felt something hit him just above the right eye.
In that instant, his life changed forever. A pellet from one of the guns--it's still unclear from whose, although everyone agrees it was an accident--had gone through his eyelid to the optic nerve. The damage would prove to be inoperable, and he would have to go the rest of his life with only one of the eyes he was born with.
But it would prove to be a disability he not only could live with but thrive with. Geaneas, a junior, has 861 yards rushing this season, as well as nine touchdowns. And he has done it just one year removed from the junior varsity and less than one year after losing his eye.
"I've lost a lot of depth perception," Geaneas said. "Other than that, I've done everything the same since then. I still played baseball. I still could do a lot of things."
In fact, almost no one can tell that the eye is missing. Doctors at Georgetown Medical Hospital fitted him with a plastic replacement and a contact lens that matches the color on his other eye. Despite the accident, he played for the Raiders' junior varsity baseball team in the spring, played American Legion baseball in the summer and joined the Raiders varsity football team in August.
"He just got in the weight room and worked hard to get going," Raiders football coach Pat McManus said. "There has never been a moment when it has made a difference, that I can see."
Geaneas has to have another surgery soon after the football season, to make sure the optic nerves stay in place. He wears a face shield on his football helmet to prevent others from poking either of his eyes.
"When I first heard about it, I was devastated because I knew what a sports-minded person he was," said his mother, Cindy. "But he's really responded well."
Said Chris: "I was angry about it, but I didn't really say anything. I was really depressed about it for a while."
But he's moved on, he said, and has received plenty of support from his family, friends and teammates.
"They really haven't treated me differently," Geaneas said. "It's really been the same as it was before."