Injury strengthens key player’s resolve, love of game

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Corona del Sol senior defensive end Rashaad Armstrong has had the game of football taken away from him before. With his game reaching new heights and improving, he knows now, more than ever, just how much the game means to him and how much he wants to continue playing.

For four years, Armstrong has been one of the Aztecs’ top pass rushers. His goal for his senior season, he said, was to play as hard as he could. For the first three weeks he did exactly that. His efforts brought results. He had become a leader, was an effective pass rusher and was having fun playing the game he loved. But it all came to a halt when he suffered a quadricep injury in Week Four’s game against North Canyon. He was hit in the thigh with a helmet and the injury forced him to miss three weeks of action.

Standing on the sideline, watching his teammates compete, Armstrong said, was not easy.

“I don’t like being injured. I hate watching football games,” he said. “I can’t stand watching. When I’m on the sideline watching I can’t do anything about the game. It drives me insane. I can’t stand it. It’s the worst feeling.”

During the three weeks he was injured, Armstrong did all he could. He became more of a leader and supported his teammates. When he came back from the injury in Week Eight against Desert Vista, he was more than ready to return to the field and play football. The 6-4, 215-pound Armstrong made an immediate impact. On the game’s first play, he forced a fumble. He spent the rest of the night doing what he does best: rushing the passer and making key tackles.

“When I came back I was like ‘I need to go all out and play,’” he said.

Armstrong finished his high school career in impressive fashion. In the season finale against Highland, Armstrong collected six tackles, a sack, a blocked field goal and a touchdown. The touchdown, Armstrong said, was the biggest thrill.

“I wanted to score a touchdown and I reached that my last game,” he said. “It was the best feeling in the world, especially (playing well) in front of the home crowd. It was amazing.

“I think my high school career was great. I had some of the greatest friends and teammates that you could imagine. I’m really happy about my high school career. I love everybody at my school.”

Having finished his high school career, Armstrong is now ready to set his sights on playing at the collegiate level. The opportunity excites him. He said playing football at the next level will be a challenge. He said he will have become stronger and faster. Armstrong said he is ready to prove himself and accept a new challenge. He’s quick, tough and smart. Dissecting plays, as they develop, he said is one of his strong points. His aggressive approach to the game is another. Armstrong said he can see himself getting much better. He believes bigger things are in store for him as he continues to grow as a player.

“This isn’t my prime. If I get in the weight room more and get my speed up I can get a lot better,” he said. “I just want to be a great player.”

If there is one thing the injury did teach Armstrong, it’s that he loves the game of football. When it’s gone he misses it and he doesn’t want to leave it any time soon.

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