In Saugus football’s Foothill League game against Canyon, Nathan Eldridge flew around the field at defensive back with one hand wrapped and taped until he appeared mummified up to the forearm.
“You can’t play with a cast on, so we had to put the foam around it and then we just taped it and taped it and then I ran around with a club,” Eldridge said.
It didn’t look quite right, and it certainly didn’t feel quite right to Eldridge, who typically plays quarterback. But when injuries took him out of the position, he went where he could.
“We wanted to ease him back in,” said coach Jason Bornn. “Once he got medically cleared, we didn’t want to just throw him in there. We wanted to make sure he was comfortable in moving around.”
Eldridge was playing with an injured arm after taking a fall in his previous game against West Ranch.
It wasn’t the first injury he dealt with during the season, either. He battled back from a sprained knee and ankle as preleague transitioned into league and pushed through a back and a shoulder injury before preleague even began.
In Saugus’ fourth game of the season, a matchup against Ventura, Eldridge suffered a knee and ankle sprain that took him out and put backup quarterback Eli Gragas in.
Gragas seamlessly stepped in for the Cents, who lost one game and won one game after Eldridge’s injury.
Eldridge was ever-present, though, taking mental reps and supporting his fellow quarterback and friend.
“On the sideline, whenever I’d come off the field, he’d be helping watch the film, tell me like, what the defense was doing, what was open,” Gragas said. “In practice he was always supporting me, too. We’ve always been like best friends since around elementary school, really.”
Eldridge returned to the field three weeks after his injury to lead his team against West Ranch, but injured his arm in the matchup. He played as a defensive back in the following two games, then returned to his natural position in the final game of league against Hart.
It wasn’t until last week that Eldridge finally settled in and looked like his old self. In Saugus’ CIF-Southern Section Division 6 playoff win against Sonora, he completed 13 of 15 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for an additional 60 yards and two scores.
“It was definitely a lot of fun just to be back and being able to be in the quarterback position, commanding the field, feeling like I’m leading my teammates again,” Eldridge said.