Poised for a breakout season as the William E. Hay Wildcats’ starting quarterback, Morgan Loshny has suffered a tough break just one week into the Central Alberta High School Football League season.
His lingering hip injury flared up again during the Wildcats’ season-opening 34-14 win over the Camrose Trojans last Thursday, though Loshny went the distance at quarterback and played through pain.
The next day, however, he visited a doctor in Stettler and was ordered not to run, at least for the short term, and booked for an MRI examination this Thursday in Red Deer.
“The doctor told me that it’s something in my joint,” Loshny said Monday. “He thinks it might be a loose cartilage, or a piece of cartilage, or a torn cartilage.”
“So I have to go for an MRI on Thursday morning. That’s when I’ll find out how long I’ll be out, for sure, and what I can do about it.”
Loshny, a Grade 11 student, is an experienced football player at multiple positions, and the Wildcats were counting on him as their main man at quarterback after the graduation of last year’s starter, Dustin Dayman.
“The doctor told me I could play but I can’t run, but that pretty much defeats the purpose of playing, almost,” said Loshny, five foot-11 and 165 pounds.
“So I might as well just take it easy and let it heal, and hopefully I can get back in before too long.”
That’s the same hope for the Wildcats, who have been forced to make alternate quarterback plans for this Thursday’s home opener against the H.J. Cody Lakers of Sylvan Lake.
“That’ll be a big loss, for sure, if we play without Morgan,” said Wildcats coach Norbert Baharally. “I don’t anticipate he will even dress on Thursday.”
“So we’ll go in with one quarterback — a similar situation to what we did in Camrose.”
Grade 10 rookie Stephen Zuk is slated to substitute as starting quarterback, with Grade 11 student Clayton Steen available as a backup.
“He’s a good athlete — a hockey player and a baseball player,” Baharally said of Zuk. “A good all–around athlete.
“He played quarterback in bantam for two years and a little bit in peewee, I think.”
Loshny, a league all-star last season as a defensive back, has quarterback experience from the high school and club levels. The 16-year-old has embraced the role of leader that comes with the position, so his absence is another tough pill to swallow for the Wildcats, already without senior slotback Ricky Armstrong (pre-season hand injury).
“It’s definitely very frustrating, especially knowing we don’t really have a solid backup,” Loshny said of the quarterback quandary.
“We’ve kind of just thrown a couple of people in, just in case. So it’s not the best timing, that’s for sure. But it’ll be a good learning experience for the younger guys.
“It’s a little stressful, sitting on the sidelines and not being able to do anything, but I think it’ll be good for the long run, especially when you don’t know what it is and how severe it is. It’s definitely worth it to get it fixed now before it’s too late. I still have next year (for high school football) and I still want to play in the spring.”
Loshny hasn’t ruled out a return within a few weeks, pending the results of his MRI.
His left hip joint was a source of pain when he returned home from last Thursday’s game.
“I had to lift my leg into my bed, it was so sore,” he said. “So that’s when I decided maybe I should get it checked out. It just feels like I have no strength in it. You can’t really have that when you’re playing football.”
Loshny also plays high school varsity basketball, so he also wants to get back on track for that season.
His athleticism and leadership qualities were major attributes in his ascension to starting quarterback this season.
“Definitely his leadership,” Baharally said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s got a good arm. He’s got some good speed. And he makes good decisions.”
“Coming into Grade 11, he’s an experienced high school quarterback. He knows what he needs to do and he can make some good reads and he knows the plays and can run the offence.”
Baharally said Loshny has gained considerable experience, most recently with the Tier 1 midget Battle River Shock out of Camrose in the past spring season, and also with the Zone 4 entry in the Alberta Summer Games a couple of years ago.
Last season with the Wildcats, he backed up Dayman, who is now helping out as a coach of the receivers and quarterbacks.
“Morgan got a few (QB) reps last year — definitely not as many as maybe we would have hoped as a Grade 10er — but he played a lot for us on defence,” Baharally said.
Loshny enjoyed his defensive role, but he believes he’s in the right place at quarterback.
“It’s where I belong, I think,” he said. “I like the leadership and it’s really technical. It kind of interests me. It’s a challenge.”
Last week’s season opener presented its own set of challenges.
“It wasn’t my best game ever,” Loshny said immediately after the win over Camrose. “I think I’m just a little bit rusty, maybe nervous about the leadership of taking on a high school team. I’m not used to that.”
A day later, the discovery of the severity of his year-old injury pushed him to the sidelines.
Loshny is a student of the game, but he prefers hands on practice routines.
“I can pick it up pretty quick on the field,” he said. “I’d rather get reps and do it than just looking at a page. But I go through my playbooks.”
Armed with knowledge and more playing experience, he hopes to graduate to university football within a few years.
“It would be a cool experience. It’s not out of reach, at all. I’d definitely love to do that in college.”