Putting the finishing touches on a 2015 football season that saw the Trojans advance all the way to the District Final, Ean Purcell didn’t know that his high school athletic career would be dramatically altered as Trenton took on Chelsea High School.
As the third quarter came around, Purcell was blocking on a play on offense when unexpectedly another play was blocked and fell onto his leg.
The unanticipated contact along with the weight of the opposing player was too much for his leg to take and he was carted off the field and it was eventually determined that he broke both his fibula and tibia – the two leg bones below the kneecap.
The tibia fracture in particular is one that stands out in the minds of many sports fans, as it was the bone that former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann infamously broke in a 1985 Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants that ended his career.
With an injury of that severity, it knocked him not only out of the game but also out of the following wrestling season. He had shown prowess on the football field, but wrestling was where he had really shined through.
During his sophomore campaign, Purcell defeated an eventual state champion and was poised to make a run himself at the state crown during his junior year.
Missing out on wrestling season was tough as it was, but things were made much tougher given the nine surgeries that he had to undergo to get his leg back up and functioning at 100 percent.
On the sidelines, Purcell found it tough to miss out on a season in which his teammates could have used his presence.
“Last year’s wrestling season was hard to watch for me. One of the kids that I had beaten in my sophomore year went on to take first in States and I think I could have really helped the team out,” Purcell said.
Pushing through rehabilitation, Purcell was granted a clean bill of health this past August, just around 10 months after his initial injury. It was a long process, but Purcell was prepared to get back to where he was athletically.
With the football team starting off 5-0 and finishing off with a playoff loss to Romulus, Purcell was ready to get back on the mat and show that he hadn’t lost a step despite the time off.
“My expectations headed into this year were big. Right away, I knew that I wanted to get back to the Palace for the State Championships and see what happens from there.”
Considering his expectations for himself, Purcell managed to keep a cool head into his first meet back, along with the ones that have followed since.
“I wasn’t really nervous at all going into my first match back. I was more excited to get back out there than anything.” Purcell said.
To this point in the season, Purcell has found his groove right away and has dropped just one match. Given the severity of his injury and length of his rehab, the fact that he has been able to bounce back so quickly can be attributed to both his hard work and dedication, along with the talented coaching staff.
“Coach (Tom) Bluhm has been a great coach for me,” Purcell said. “He always believes in me and is always pushing me to do the best of my ability. Coach (Jeff) Charping, our assistant, has been a big help as well because he makes sure that we’re going 100 percent at all times.”
With just around a month remaining until the State Championship tournament, Purcell is concentrated on the present but has a watchful eye toward what lies ahead for both him and the team.
“Before any of my personal goals comes the team goal of making it to the State Championship. We’ve looked over the schedule and we think it’s very doable, and I want to do my part in making that happen.” Purcell said.
Just over a year after an injury that could have ended his career, Ean Purcell is right back on top and ready to lead the Trojans on their, and his own, march to the State Championship.