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Thacker, Breds get healthy for playoff run
11/15/2012 - by Andy Foltz
Brady Thacker ran onto the practice field grinning from ear to ear.

"Hey guys, see my new knee brace?"

That’s not something most of us would be excited about – but most of us aren’t Brady Thacker, either. Thacker is in his third season playing varsity football at Newport Central Catholic, but the past two seasons he’s spent more time on the sidelines than on the field. He suffered an ACL tear in the second game last season, and missed the rest of the year. He missed the first part of this season with different ailments, including a concussion and a sprained ankle.

So why does he keep coming back to this game that seems determined to hurt him?

"I love the game," he answers with a smile and a shrug. "It’s always fun getting out with my teammates."

Those teammates include some players who have lined up alongside the Dayton, Kentucky native since third grade when he joined the Campbell County Red Devils, like running back Dylan Hayes. Hayes is among Northern Kentucky leaders with 1,468 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns this year. He’s doing most of his running behind his friend, who starts on the offensive line and at linebacker.

"Dylan and I played together for the Red Devils, and we decided to come to NCC together," Thacker said.

"It seemed like forever to get back," he said of his knee surgery, but he could just as easily be talking about doing an interview in practice. He gets some good-natured grief from coaches about missing onerous drills, and responds with a grin, but it’s easy to see he’d rather be in the midst of his teammates, doing up-downs, than spending another second on the sideline for any reason. "I wasn’t able to get back until mid-January," he added. That his recovery from a major knee injury was only four months – and that four months seemed long – sums up what football means to Thacker.

Coach Eddie Eviston, himself a standout Thoroughbred in his playing days, is glad Thacker made that decision to come to NewCath.

"He definitely brings a spark to our team," he said of Thacker. "Having him in the lineup, or even last year, just having him around even when he couldn’t play, helps us."

Thacker wasn’t the only Bred to suffer an injury this season, and those injuries contributed to a 1-3 start. But after three straight losses to McNicholas (Cincinnati), Campbell County, and a near upset of Simon Kenton, Thacker and company got healthy in a big way, rolling to an 8-4 record and are two wins from competing for the State 2A title.

"This season has been a lot of fun after a rough start," Thacker said.

"We never had a full load of guys until the Simon Kenton game," said coach Eviston. "We had a lot of injuries, some big, some minor. But having guys healthy definitely helps when you’re a 2A program."

The Breds season continues Friday at Newport Stadium, where they take on the 10-2 Walton-Verona Bearcats. The Bearcats feature a tough running game, with five players rushing for over 395 yards this season.

"They have really good linemen, and they all hustle to the play," Thacker said. "We’ll have to get after it."

Thacker will be getting after it in a new knee brace, a week after busting his old one in the Breds’ 52-0 win over Holy Cross.

"It’s great," he said. "I ordered it last night, and it got here in time for practice today."

While Thacker hasn’t had any offers to play in college – yet – he wants to continue his playing days, and he wants to do it close to home.

"I want to play as long as my knees let me," he said, with another smile.
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