The Grand Valley State Lakers suffered a huge loss Sunday when their worst fears were confirmed, Heath Parling is out for the season.
Parling suffered a torn ACL during the second drive of yesterday's 28-0 road win over the Tiffin Dragons and had an MRI today to confirm the damage. Parling said at a press conference today that he thought he injured the knee on the third or fourth play of the game, but didn't think it was too serious.
"I've felt pain before. I didn't think it was anything super serious," said Parling.
Parling finished the drive with a touchdown pass to Charles Johnson and even played the following drive to end the first quarter. But at the end of the quarter, Parling brought up the injury to the team trainers. The staff soon diagnosed the injury as a torn ACL.
"You play football your whole life knowing that it could happen on any play. So, it's really not a huge surprise," said the redshirt junior. "Obviously, I would've liked for it not to happen. Now it's just about moving forward, get the surgery, and we'll worry about everything else after the season's over."
Parling expects to have the surgery in Grand Rapids within a week or two. He has to wait for the swelling around his knee to go down before he can have surgery. He could end up getting a medical redshirt, and does expect to make a full recovery.
Parling refuses to allow himself to get upset over the injury that will cost him the rest of what looked like a promising season. "I just don't see any positive outcomes of having a negative look on it. I'm going to stay positive," he added. "That's what I need to do for me and my team."
Sophomore Isiah Grimes took over for Parling in Saturday's game, and he will continue to replace Parling as the team's new starting quarterback. Grimes was 10-of-15 for 143 yards and two TD's in yesterday's win over Tiffin.
Lakers head coach Matt Mitchell noted that Grimes has different strengths than Parling, such as a stronger arm. While the there won't be major changes to the way the Lakers' offense works, they will have to make some tweaks.
"You have to fit your scheme around your players," said the Lakers' third-year coach. "That would be any player, but specifically the quarterback position you've kind of got to mold what you do."
Mitchell also said that he expects Parling to remain a huge part of this year's Lakers football team, serving as a leader on the sidelines. It's a role that Parling is ready to take.
"I want to be a coach anyway, so this is like a summer internship job for me," said Parling.
The Lakers will take on Ohio-Dominican at Lubbers Stadium Saturday at 7:00 p.m. GVSU is asking fans attending the game to wear blue. Parling will be wearing blue on the sideline that night, but his spirits will not be blue.