Daniel Archer remembers the day without hesitation.
Last September, he suffered a devasting leg injury at Newton, breaking two separate bones.
“The trainer came and helped me walk off the field and I noticed that my ankle was dangling and I couldn’t control it,” Archer said. “… They told me that my tibia and fibula were shattered and that I was lucky they didn’t compound.”
Even that didn’t stop him from getting back on his feet as quickly as possible.
“It took me six weeks before I could walk again and five and a half months later, I was back to squatting 520,” he added.
The soon-to-be-senior defensive tackle has waited for almost an entire year to retake the field, anchoring the Panther defensive line with fellow senior and returning starter Tyler Dorsey.
“Dan’s really smart and strong,” Dorsey said. “We communicate a lot on new drills we can do and other stuff that we think will help us improve.”
The big men will return to the same place they’ve been since the second grade. That’s when Tyler and his family moved to Derby and from that point, the competition has been on, starting where it starts with everyone – at recess.
Archer and Dorsey, both captains on opposing playground touch football teams, fostered their competitive spirit for years before they joined the vaunted history of Derby football.
“We’ve worked out together since eighth grade and it transfers onto the field,” Archer said. “We have fun with it and our relationship, especially on the field, centers around that competition.”
Now as both players head into their senior year, the competition is just heating up. It’s not enough just to beat your opponent, something Dorsey and the Panthers did 13 times last year on their way to a state championship season.
You’ve got to beat the guy right next to you on the line. If you don’t, you’re buying dinner.
That’s right, oftentimes the leading tackler or sack-getter between the two is on the hook for one buffet at Good Fortune where it’s not about the number of plates of food that you put down, but the amount of food you can fit on one plate, you know, to avoid unnecessary trips.
“Trust me,” Archer said. “When we go, we’ve got to give them a heads up.”
When their bellies aren’t bursting with Chinese food, the focus remains on the gridiron. Dorsey said he wanted to work on his speed during the offseason, feeling his aggressive nature and strength will get him pretty far.
If he can get a couple of steps faster both physically and mentally, the sacks and free egg rolls will come in droves.
“You can’t think while you’re playing,” Dorsey said. “You have to rely on your instinct and be strong and physical in everything that you do. I get double-teamed a lot as well so I have to be able to fight through that and get in the quarterback’s face. Even if I don’t get the sack, all I need to do is beat my guy to make an impact.”
Both Archer and Dorsey are currently on the outside looking in as far as a college football career is concerned. Archer because of his injury and Dorsey because he wasn’t able to make it to any of the recruiting camps. A big season this year could really get potential scholarships rolling and both players are ready to show they belong.
“As long as I stay healthy I’d love to do it,” Dorsey said. “Playing college football has always been my dream.”
Right now their vision is locked on September 6 and their season opener at Garden City. Hopefully, Good Fortune has the Monday after marked on their calendar because Dorsey and Archer are ready to eat.