By Marty O'Brien, firstname.lastname@example.org
11:35 AM EDT, September 20, 2013
No medical miracle will get New Kent High senior Trey Lee back on the football field this season after he broke his leg in two places in the first quarter of the season opener.
Thanks to the magic of Skype, which allows communication over the Internet with a microphone and webcam, Lee got to talk to his teammates as he watched them play York this past Friday.
"It was a real thrill," said Lee, who was at home recovering from the injury. "I really liked that they did that for me."
What Lee got to share in was one of the best moments in New Kent football in the past decade. Losers of 12 straight, the Trojans defeated York 11-8 on Sawyer Rountree's 31-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining.
Lee had sustained a broken leg after rushing for nearly 70 yards and a touchdown in the first 10 minutes of the opener against King William to give the Trojans an 8-7 lead. Minus Lee, and four other injured starters, the Trojans lost 49-8 to King William.
While the Trojans did not win a game in 2012, the margin of defeat was stunning because enough starters return that one former New Kent coach is predicting a minimum of five wins this season. History suggests the Trojans would go into a funk amid the flurry of turnovers and injuries that led to the loss.
Wilson Gregory, a two-way starting lineman, made it clear immediately after the King William game, this year's Trojans are made of tougher stuff.
"I texted Coach (Dan) Rounds and said that one loss has never ruined a season and we'll come back to practice and pick up the tempo," Gregory said. "Then we had players' only meetings before and after practice to make sure we worked to get better.
"We knew we were better than 49-8."
It showed immediately on the first two defensive series of the game, as the Trojans, who lost to York by a combined 72-0 the past two seasons, forced the Falcons to punt.
"We played better defense and we cut out the turnovers," quarterback Luke Mechling said.
In fact, the only turnover the Trojans had in the game was a meaningless fumble as the clock struck zero in the first half. Lee watched the scoreless first half thanks to injured teammate Brandon Martin, who Skyped the game from the press box and carried his iPad to the sidelines so Lee could talk to his teammates.
"I wanted him to be there, to be part of the team," Martin said. "He might not have been able to be on the field, but he's still our brother."
Lee inspired his teammates by telling them, "Work hard and good things will happen." He was virtually with the team at halftime, when Martin held the iPad in the middle of the huddle and Lee sent them onto the field by breaking the huddle down with the Trojans' traditional chant of "We will win!"
If anything, Lee's misfortune relaxed some of his teammates. Mikel Chalmers says that because of Lee's injury, the team motto during the week was: "It (football) can be taken away from you at any moment."
Chalmers, who ran for 88 yards in replacing Lee as the go-to running back, said that he felt a little pressure but, more than anything, was determined to "have fun" after seeing playing football snatched from Lee in an instant.
Chalmers gave the Trojans the lead in the third quarter by running 12 yards on a trap, and T.J. Ward, who started at running back because of Lee's injury, made it 8-0 by running in the conversion.
York retaliated early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 8, but the Trojans, who threw sparingly the first three quarters, went to the pass for their winning drive. Mechling completed four passes for 58 yards to lead the Trojans to the York 15, where the drive stalled.
Rounds "shocked" Ward and "surprised" Mechling by calling on Rountree to attempt the go-ahead field goal with 37 seconds remaining.
"Sawyer had a sore leg and had hardly kicked in practice all week, so I didn't expect (Rounds) to send in the field goal unit," Mechling said. "Because Kevin Karaffa, our holder, was hurt, I found out the day before the game I would be holding and our practice was very limited — five snaps."
To make matters worse, the Trojans were kicking from the left hash mark, a problem for Rountree who invariably lines his kicks straight ahead. But Christian Hill-Sanders' snap was good, if perhaps a bit low, and Mechling placed it to the ground nicely.
Sawyer's kick sailed over the exact middle of the crossbar to give the Trojans an 11-8 lead with 30 seconds left. Then the defense, New Kent's weakness for years, clinched the victory as Gregory sacked York's quarterback for a 10-yard loss.
Lee saw neither the kick nor the sack because the battery on Martin's iPad had run out. But Lee knew what had happened because New Kent athletic director Julie Ellis was describing it to him on the phone.
"I couldn't believe it," Lee said. "We did it! I was so happy."
Moments later, Lee heard his teammates chanting his name, "Trey Lee! Trey Lee! Trey Lee!" as the Trojans celebrated their first victory since the 2011 season.
Martin summed up having Lee be a part of the night by saying, "I hope it meant the world to him. I know it meant the world to me."
O'Brien can be reached at 757-247-4963.
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