McALESTER — McAlester senior Connor Powers grew up playing basketball and baseball. He attended Lakewood Christian School until seventh grade, when he transferred to Puterbaugh Middle School and started playing football.
A two-way player strong enough to play on both offensive and defensive line, Powers stuck with the sport and joined McAlester’s high school team, hoping to be a contributor.
Instead, Powers’ first year of high school ball lasted just two weeks, coming to an end at an August 2010 scrimmage at Wagoner.
“I blew out my knee,” Powers said Wednesday.
“I was a defensive end, and they did like a sweep. I was running, and me and Josh Peckio, he was at linebacker, and we were about to go tackle him, and someone cut me from the side.”
Powers said he suffered a fractured growth plate and a torn meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Though he didn’t need full reconstructive surgery, he still had ACL surgery in November 2010, and a slow rehab process followed, with Powers spending the next six months slowly rebuilding strength and flexibility in his knee.
“I’d always get frustrated, but Mike Baker, our sports medicine guy here, I have a real close friendship with him,” Powers said. “Every time, he’d be like, ‘Next time when you come in, I want so many degrees.’ By that, I’d have to pull my knee as far as I could to get that degree (of motion), and I’d have a process and a goal to reach.”
Powers said he couldn’t return to football until his sophomore year, by which point other players had earned all the starting spots on the offensive and defensive line. Though he got into games as early as his sophomore year, Powers has had to wait until this year to become the Buffs’ starting right tackle.