Well-wishers swarmed Andy Beckett from every angle Friday night. Most of them walked over to give the Lackey senior a congratulatory handshake.
For someone so immersed in so many big plays during the visiting Chargers' 13-7 win over Westlake, which clinched a second straight Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title, it may have been about the most painful part of the night.
It was those handshakes that made Beckett wince a bit. Not the game-ending sack, the tide-turning interception or even the 28-yard rope that he caught in the third-quarter. Just those little displays of affection.
His right hand had been crushed by a Westlake player when he tried to block an extra-point attempt in the first half. He ran to the sidelines with what was initially diagnosed as a broken hand. He wrapped it up and scurried back into the game.
At halftime, Lackey coaches convened with Beckett again and asked whether he wanted to sit out the second half. With a title at stake, there wasn't too much hesitation.
"Just wrap it up," Beckett told them.
Beckett knows a thing or two about broken bones. His elbow, his thumb and a few other fingers top a laundry list of fractures over the course of his career.
Until Friday, he had been relatively unscathed this season, one in which he's just happy to be back on the field. Beckett played during his freshman and sophomore years, but didn't come out for the team last year. Needless to say, his coach welcomed his return.
"I honestly don't even know where we'd be without him," Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick said. "What you saw today was what he's done for us all season. This is nothing new."
Beckett has done a little of everything for the Chargers (10-0) this season -- he plays tight end, defensive end and he even holds on kicks. Friday night was just a sample.
With Westlake driving in its own territory late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Buck Smith's pass was tipped at the line and Beckett sprang into view and snatched the wobbly ball at the line of scrimmage.
But perhaps no play was as important as Beckett's effort on Westlake's final drive, when he flushed Smith out of the pocket with less than 30 seconds left, wrestled him to the ground and forced a fumble to secure Lackey's third straight win over the Wolverines (8-2).
"All I was thinking about was sacking him," Beckett said. "I knew if we kept him in bounds, the clock would run out and we'd win the game."
They did. As for his hand, he said a conference title should go a long way in easing the pain.