Mike Crown has a relentless attitude.
The South Carroll senior lineman suffered a bucket-handle meniscus tear to his right knee during the second week of the Cavaliers’ preseason practice in August and missed the team’s first three games of the season.
Recovery from a torn meniscus typically takes 6-8 weeks, but Crown made his return in Week 4 against Manchester Valley. He recorded seven tackles against the Mavericks and finished the season with 29 to earn Times first-team all-county honors for a second consecutive year.
“When the injury happened, we tried to figure out any possible way to resolve this issue we have presented in front of us,” Crown said. “We got the surgery set up as quickly as possible and half of my meniscus was removed. We were looking at 6-8 weeks out, but I went into physical therapy with a killer mindset and came out in four weeks ready to play.”
According to verywellhealth.com, a bucket-handle tear gets its name because the torn segment of the meniscus pulls away, forming a handle-shaped segment of damaged meniscus tissue. An estimated 10 percent of all meniscal tears are bucket-handle tears, and these types typically affect young men.
The bucket-handle tear is traditionally more difficult, but definitely not impossible, to treat.
“I was concerned about the outlook of the whole team,” Cavaliers coach Mike Kraus said. “Mike was such a leader in the offseason and in that first week, everybody was following him. Once we lost him, that was huge and I was concerned about that. I was concerned about his future as well because he worked so hard to get ready to have a great senior season to get to the next level.”
Crown may have been absent from the team’s lineup for the first few games, but he was present at every practice after his surgery. Kraus said Crown never missed a day and was always readily available to help players when necessary.
“It shows the kind of young man he is,” Kraus said. “We talked after his surgery and I told him ‘You being there will help us get over the hump of you not being on the field.’ He bought into that and did everything he could to be there.”
Crown started playing football when he was 8 years old and said he always dreamed of playing football at the collegiate level. He committed earlier this month to play at Frostburg State University after leaving an official visit with a positive experience.
He had eyes on programs such as Oregon State, Bowie State, Alderson Broaddus, and Fairmont State before trimming his choices to Shepherd and Frostburg.
“I’m excited to get with the group of guys,” Crown said. “Frostburg has been coming up and they have a lot of depth at the defensive line, defensive end especially. Frostburg has [defensive end] Zach Strand and he’s playing at a high level. I’m interested in playing up to that level so I feel like he can help me.”
Crown’s parents Lauren and Tommy are both 1998 South Carroll graduates, and Tommy Crown also played football for the Cavaliers. Mike Crown’s brother Lance was pulled up to the varsity team in Mike’s absence and the duo played next to each other on the offensive line once Mike returned.
Kraus was a longtime assistant at South Carroll before taking over as head coach in 2018 in place of Steve Luette, and said Mike Crown’s dedication to the game started at home.
“His parents are a great foundation and Mike is the type of player who always wanted to be at the forefront,” Kraus said. “He’s always had that drive to get himself to that forefront and it’s always resonated with other players…“
“He never took a back seat to the seniors or other upperclassmen and he always pushed himself.”
Crown and teammates Dylan O’Neill and Christian Skinner competed in the Baltimore Touchdown Club’s 24th Annual Senior All-Star Football Classic on Dec. 14 at River Hill, and the trio represented the North team. More than 85 high schools were represented and the games featured more than 200 athletes.
Kraus coached the North team, which won 10-0.
Crown closed out his career at South Carroll as one of 10 Cavaliers to earn Times all-decade team honors for 2010-2019 and hopes to leave the program with a positive impact.
“It’s been huge for me, especially growing up and watching this program go through its ups and downs,” Crown said. “Having my family go through the program, that really adds a special factor into how I feel about the whole situation. I think my name is probably going to be solidified there with all-decade.
“Hopefully, one day, I’ll maybe get to the South Carroll Hall of Fame. There were a lot of athletes selected for that and it’s huge.”
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