Denton Ryan quarterback Spencer Sanders has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, confirming what many close to the situation anticipated after he was injured in last weekend’s Class 5A Division I state semifinal loss to Highland Park.
Sanders, a junior who is verbally committed to Oklahoma State, shared the news in a text message Tuesday morning with the Denton Record-Chronicle. His surgery is slated for Dec. 23.
Sanders was injured Saturday with roughly seven minutes to play in the first half when he was tackled on a 6-yard run to the Highland Park 7-yard line. Sanders said his knee buckled on the play as defenders piled on top of him. He was helped from the field and stood on the sideline with crutches for the remainder of the game.
“It was more that there were people on my back,” Sanders said immediately after the game. “I was crouching and I guess it was just too much pressure on my knee and I went down on it. Whatever it is, it will be fixed.”
Ryan went on to lose to the Scots, 31-24.
“It’s a tough break for Spencer, and it was obviously a tough break for our team,” Ryan coach Dave Henigan said. “We’re all disappointed, but the blessing is that it’s only his ACL. I’m not trying to downplay the ACL part, I’m just saying that it could have been a lot worse with more ligament damage.
“Spencer has the right mentality. He will be back.”
Sanders passed for 3,258 yards, rushed for another 1,099 and accounted for 56 total touchdowns. He verbally committed to OSU in October and is currently the No. 14 dual-threat quarterback in his class according to 247Sports’ national rankings.
This is Sanders’ second season-ending knee injury. He suffered a similar injury to his left knee as a freshman in a late-season loss to Keller. He missed the next two games and Ryan finished 5-5 to miss the playoffs. Sanders returned from that injury in four months and started all of Ryan’s games in 2015 as the Raiders finished 13-1 in Class 6A.
Ryan (14-1 in 2016) is 32-7 over the last three seasons. In four of those seven losses, Sanders either didn’t finish the game or didn’t play at all due to injury.
Not only did Sanders’ injury come at the worst time for the football team, but it also impacts other sports at Ryan. Sanders was expected to start in basketball and has also competed on the track team.
“The normal recovery time is six months,” Henigan said. “Spencer has great work ethic, he’s tough and he’s got good muscle structure. So I’m sure he will have a great rehab. The other benefit is we won’t have spring ball, so he’s got time.”
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.