CHARLESTON, W.Va. - George Washington High School will honor its 1982 Class AAA state championship football team Friday night.
While the school is hoping to have many of the players from '82 on hand for a ceremony before the school's game against Ashland Paul Blazer (Ky.), the more relevant question surrounds the status of a player on the currently top-ranked Patriots roster.
Let's not mince words, either. That player, senior running back Ryan Switzer, is the most decorated - and perhaps the best - player to come through GW in the program's 49-year history. We're not talking about a backup place-kick holder here.
Switzer, the winner of the 2011 Kennedy Award, a North Carolina commitment for the Tar Heels' 2013 recruiting class and a two-time Class AAA All-State selection, was named to the USA Today's Preseason All-America Team last week. Just days later, he suffered a much (and appropriately) publicized concussion and a bruised shoulder early in the Patriots' season-opening win at South Charleston after just two carries.
True to his historic form, however, Switzer took the first carry 61 yards for a touchdown.
Switzer visited Dr. Clark Adkins on Monday, who cleared Switzer's shoulder to play against the Tomcats (2-0). The concussion, meanwhile, is another issue.
"Everything checks out good, but with concussions it's mandatory five-day rest and evaluation. All coaches have had to go through testing on this," Switzer's father, Michael Switzer, said Monday.
"Head injuries are no joke. He's passed all the tests, so we're hopeful he'll be cleared."
The Secondary School Activities Commission introduced a program in June to educate prep coaches on the symptoms and dangers of concussions. A 30-minute video was required viewing for all football coaches prior to the first preseason scrimmage.
Ryan Switzer's five-day wait before resuming practice, a measure that sees his return to the field coming Thursday, is not part of the SSAC mandate. It comes from the Switzers' family physician. The governing body has a return-to-play protocol in place for in-game situations, but nothing on the books for what happens once a player is actually diagnosed with a concussion.
Such a protocol would require paperwork to be filed with, and tracked by, the SSAC. Instead, the governing body relies on family doctors of the players to make a determination of when such a player is ready to return.