facemask. âCome on,â Coach Green said with calm firmness, and he put his arm around Arnieâs shoulders. âLetâs get you to the bench. â This time Arnie didnât argue. He let Coach Green steer him off the field.
N orval watched as Arnie sat on the bench and the medics looked him over. A burly young medic named Phil shined a small flashlight in Arnieâs eyes. âOne pupil is more dilated than the other,â Phil reported to another medic. He then held up one finger. âTry to follow my finger with your eye,â Phil said, and he slowly drew a straight line in the air in front of Arnie. Phil looked his partner and shook his head. âHeâs not following.â Next Phil held out two fingers to Arnie. âGrab my fingers as hard as you can,â he said. Arnie did as he was told. Again, Phil shook his head. âWeak grip,â he reported to the other medic. âCan you describe to me how youâre feeling, Arnie?â Phil asked. âSick,â Arnie answered. âAnd Iâm seeing things weird. One minute everything is blurred. Then itâs jumpy and flickering. Sometimes I see two of things.â âProbable traumatic occipital lobe injury. Possibly secondary impact syndrome,â Phil said to the other medic. âLetâs bring the ambulance around. Arnie, weâre taking you the hospital, okay? Theyâll need to run some tests on you.â âWhat kind of tests?â Norval asked. âA CAT scan and probably an MRI. Theyâll want to get a look at his brain.â âAre your parents in the stands, Arnie?â Coach Green asked. Arnie didnât reply. âThey donât usually come to the games,â Norval told him. âOkay. Iâll call them,â Coach Green said. The medics left for a moment. Norval heard the whoop of an ambulance siren as they brought the vehicle to the edge of the field. Then they unloaded a stretcher and strapped Arnie onto it. âCan I go with him?â Norval asked. âAre you family?â Phil asked. Norval shook his head. âThen you canât. Sorry.â âYou have a game to finish, Norval,â Coach Green said. âCoach Gannon will follow them to the hospital. Heâll stay until Arnieâs parents arrive.â The other players and the cheerleaders gathered as the medics carried Arnie toward the ambulance. âWill he be all right?â Lara asked Norval. âI donât know,â Norval said. âI hope so.â
N orvalâs feet crossed the goal line, and the crowd went wild. Heâd scored the winning touchdown. The Titans were headed to the semifinals! Despite the crowdâs cheers, Norval found it hard to feel happy. He blamed himself for not speaking to Coach Green sooner. Arnie was in the hospital, and he could have prevented it. Once Coach Green had told Norval what to look for, heâd known almost right away that Arnie was dealing with a concussion. He noticed that Kadeem wasnât looking too thrilled either, even as their teammates jumped and shouted with joy. âI feel for the guy,â Kadeem said as the crowd started to scatter. âIâm pretty sure Iâve had a concussion or two. Iâve had some of those symptoms. But they always go away.â âYour brain probably had time to heal,â Norval said. âMaybe. It was just luck if thatâs the case. I knew those Miller scouts were watching Arnie. I didnât want to mess up his chances. Since Iâve always ended up all right, I hoped Arnie would too. Itâs not fair. Why did I get better, and Arnie just kept getting worse?â âIt could be your position,â Norval said. âThe quarterback doesnât get hit as much. Your brain has had time to heal between hits. And Arnie always ran good interference for me.â Kadeem scowled. âMan, I want to play pro ball, but even thatâs not