DENVER — Skyline's star receiver and linebacker, Kyle West, suffered a scary injury on the opening kickoff and did not return in the Class 4A state final on Saturday.
Loveland squib-kicked down the middle of the field and West said he was diving for the loose ball when he took a blow to the right side of his lower back by a Loveland player's helmet.
The impact of it, West said, locked up his nerves and he was not able to leave the field under his own power.
"It was just really flush in the kidney," said West, who returned to the sideline for the second half to watch the final bits of Skyline's 62-14 loss to the Indians. "It seized up my back and I had a little bit of nerve problems. I couldn't really get my body moving again.
"I had no breath in my body."
West was noticeably hobbled after the game, saying he was still dealing with a lot of hip and back pain. Going forward, though, he said he thought he'd be OK.
"I'm going to get it checked out and see what's going on," he said. "But I'll be fine."
Going into the Saturday's game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, West led Class 4A with 1,285 receiving yards and had 13 total touchdowns on the year. He provided a dangerous and dynamic target for first-year starting quarterback Chase Silva, who took over the reins after Nathan McGregor broke his ankle on opening night. He also was key for the Falcons' playmaking defense.
"It hurt to lose Kyle because he's an emotional leader," Skyline coach Mike Silva said. "He makes big plays for our offense and is expected to take care of one of their best dudes on defense, and then he's out. It's hard to lose a guy like Kyle, who does so many things, because it limits you in so many ways."
A 14-point hole after 59 seconds didn't help things, either.
Silva, the QB, had a few nice moments to wrap up what had been a dazzling sophomore season. He threw a 9-yard touchdown to McGregor, who held on as his helmet whipped off and bounced out the back of the end zone, and had a pinpoint 49-yard pass to Jack Wathen that set up the Falcons' second TD.
But the Falcons largely struggled. Loveland led 48-14 at half.
"It's huge because everyone knows what type of threat he is," said senior running back Jeremy Hollingsworth, who had 90 total yards and a score. "When he's not in the game, that's one less thing they have to worry about."
West had 3,089 receiving yards and 35 total touchdowns during his high school career. He said he has some offers to play at the next level, including from Ivy League schools.
He put things into perspective moments after the game.
"It's one of those life throws you a curveball kind of things and it's just unfortunate what happened," West said. "But it was still an honor to be here and watch my brothers play."
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew