by Tom Pedulla –
Few players can change the complexion of a game with one touch of the football. Hackley’s Enzi Teacher is among the few.
The 5-10, 196-pound senior running back proved that in the season opener, carrying seven times for 50 yards and two touchdowns, pulling in a 50-yard scoring reception and consistently providing the offense with good field position with dynamic returns on kickoffs and punts. His huge effort keyed a 36-0 demolition of non-league opponent Blind Brook.
“He is one of those dynamic players who makes the entire team better,” said Simon Berk, in his fourth year as head coach. “He is able to do things other players aren’t able to. Other teams need to adjust their game plan to defend against him.”
Teacher has worked hard to develop speed and elusiveness that, to some degree, comes naturally. In another regard, nature was not so kind to him. His right hip bone always was too large for the ball and socket, an issue that became more pronounced with age.
“Every time I lifted my leg as I got older it would pinch the ligaments and the muscles in my hip,” he said. The problem worsened until it was clear that stretching and physical therapy would not be enough. It pained his parents, Maisha and Willie, to watch him limp on and off the field.
Surgery became the only option. On December 20 of last year, he underwent an operation that shaved the excess bone to create a normal hip and repaired damage already created by the abnormality. As if that was not enough, he also had two procedures done to his stomach, one to treat an umbilical hernia and the other to deal with a sports hernia.
“It was a bump,” Teacher said. “It wasn’t a small one, I’ll acknowledge that.”
The Tarrytown resident admits he struggled with the mental aspect of being sidelined. “It was really tough at times to come to games and seeing my teammates play their hearts out and, if they were not winning, not be able to go on the field,” Teacher said.
Coaches and Teacher’s teammates did everything possible to make him feel part of the program. He, in turn, did everything he could to be supportive of them.
“Even when he was injured, he tried to boost the morale and he was always there for the games. He is a really good teammate,” said Jordan Johnson, an offensive lineman and senior captain. “He made sure he always kept his head on football.”
According to Teacher, he never doubted he would return to the field to rekindle his dream of playing in college. He credits that unshakable optimism to his parents.
“It is how I was raised,” he said. “I was taught you just don’t deal with adversity, you overcome it.”
Teacher is still in the process of doing that. Doctors had warned that his recovery period is one year.
“I’m still not 100 percent now,” he said. “The ligaments are still tight, so I’m looking forward to getting faster and more explosive.”
Although he is still at less than full strength, he is being recruited by several Division III schools. That list would surely increase if he begins to flash even more quickness and speed.
“He’s a well-rounded kid. He wants to make sure he goes to a school where he can play but that also suits his academic and social interests,” Berk said.
The running back who is in a great hurry on the field will take his time before deciding his next move.