‘A little over a year ago, Jayden Bauer was laying on the field at Bulldog Stadium surrounded by coaches and medical personnel with a thousand thoughts running through his head.
“At that moment, I was thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever play again, or walk, or do a lot of things right again,” Bauer said.
Bauer broke his leg in Alliance’s first game of the season last year, was carted off the field and rushed to the hospital.
“For a few days there, I didn’t know what would happen,” he said.
He could only wait. And watch. And wait some more.
Months later, following a successful surgery, Bauer received word from the doctor he would be fully cleared around April.
“There was no hesitation, I wanted to come back out (for football),” Bauer said. “There were people saying, ‘Why would you want to go back out when you hurt yourself like that, most people would just quit.’ And I’d say, ‘I love football and I have a passion for it. I need to redeem myself after last year to myself and to the coaches that I can still play at a high level and compete.’”
He’s proven that as a key member of the Bulldog offensive line, which has been a big reason for Alliance’s turnaround this year. Not only has Bauer redeemed himself, he has developed a new appreciation for his time on the field, and his time with his teammates.
“(My injury last year) made me realize that every play counts and that my time playing football is limited and on every play I need to go 100 percent and not take any play off,” Bauer said.
Really, that’s become the mantra for the entire Alliance offensive line this season, which has made tremendous improvements over the last year. Take it from senior leader Baily Hood.
“It’s a battle every play,” Hood said. “Every step counts, you're always fighting for hand placement, but every play counts.”
Hood transitioned to play guard this year, which has seemed to make a notable difference for the Bulldogs. He’s been able to disrupt the defensive line, which has sparked Alliance’s running game.
That doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, though. Offensive linemen rarely do.
“We know we did our job,” Hood said. “We don’t need the recognition. Having the team score touchdowns is good enough for us.”
Alliance has scored plenty of touchdowns this year thanks to the work up front. Through the first seven games this season, the Bulldogs have recorded nine passing touchdowns and 11 rushing touchdowns. Most of those teams, Bauer said, sport linemen much bigger than those on Alliance’s roster.
“They’re always going to be bigger than us, but what we have is we don’t give up and we’re always going to keep fighting every play,” Bauer said.
“This season has meant a lot,” Hood said. “It’s been great to bounce back and see what everyone can do.”