Craig Reazor made an impressive season debut for the Maine Central Institute football team, rushing for two touchdowns, returning a blocked field goal 84 yards for another score and completing an 8-yard touchdown pass as the Huskies defeated Bucksport 32-12 at Pittsfield Friday.
But perhaps the biggest victory of all for the senior quarterback was that he played at all — something he wasn’t able to do a year ago.
Reazor suffered two concussions during his sophomore season, the first during an exhibition game, the second in the team’s regular-season finale.
“During the offseason I started practicing again,” said Reazor, “and throughout the rest of the year I was having trouble concentrating and having headaches, so our athletic trainer told me to get it checked out by a neurologist.”
Reazor ultimately underwent both an MRI and an EEG. While both came back clean, there was a level of uncertainty about whether the symptoms had disappeared, so after going through the early stages of the 2009 preseason with the MCI football team, he was denied medical clearance to play.
The consolation prize was clearance to join the Huskies’ soccer team, and from being handed a JV jersey on the first day of practice Reazor became a starting midfielder.
Yet it wasn’t the same.
“Craig loves football and it tore at him last year when he was told he could not play, to the point where he wasn’t sure he wanted to play soccer, though I encouraged him to do it,” said MCI football coach Tom Bertrand.
“But he was still around [the football team] as much as he could be and still was a part of the team even though he wasn’t on it.”
Finally given clearance last spring to return to normal activities, Reazor still had to weigh the chance to play football against any longer-term health concerns.
“It took a while to make the decision,” he said. “I had many conferences with Coach B and myself to discuss the complications and future risks, and he said I didn’t have to play football again, but in the end I decided I wanted to finish what I had started here and I was ready to come back and play as long as I wasn’t at a huge risk.”
The MCI coaching staff is approaching Reazor’s return cautiously.
“We have to keep him out of some stuff because we don’t want to lose him, we don’t want him to get hurt,” said Bertrand.
“But with the way he plays the game, if we tell him to play at anything other than full speed, he’s not going to have any fun and he’s more likely to get hurt because that’s not how he normally plays.
“So we’re just tempering some of his reps. He’s very important to our offense, and we think we can play defense without him, but when need be we get him on the field on defense and special teams.”
How much he plays Friday night against Orono remains to be seen, but Reazor has grown appreciative of any playing time he gets — for it’s already been taken away from him once.
“Last year it was great to be part of the soccer team, but sitting on the sideline watching what you have loved to play happen right in front of you was nothing like being in the middle of it,” he said. “It was devastating to not be able to play, so to be able to play again is a dream come true.”