"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘it might have been.’"
That dusty old phrase flitted through my mind on October 31st, as I stood along the Woodinville sideline and watched the final moments of the season evaporate.
It was a crushing loss to Newport, and injured running back/safety Alek Kacmarcik walked past me, wearing a sling and looking crestfallen.
He had been injured in the fourth game of the year against Inglemoor and never returned to the field.
When fellow running back Wyatt Smith was felled by injury a couple weeks later, the Falcons had lost the heart and soul of their offensive production. And after a 4-1 start, Woodinville’s season quietly expired at 5-4.
But the year had started with such promise, with a resounding 42-7 win over Palmer of Alaska.
"The Palmer game was a pretty sweet game," Kacmarcik said. "Wyatt had an amazing run where he got hit in the backfield and spun away from it and for a 57 yard touchdown run. Together, we had over 300 yards rushing. Wyatt had about 150 and I had about 180 (actually 195). We had built and developed a special connection in the off season. We worked out together from a week after the previous season had ended. We had put in so much time together and hard work and effort. After that game, going back to our hotel, we were like ‘Hey, that paid off!’ The jubilation of seeing the hard work pay off. Kind of the band of brothers aspect."
Looking ahead, Woodinville players felt greatness was in the offing.
"We were really excited," Kacmarcik said. "We thought we had a great team and some good chemistry. We thought it would be another year to make a run for it. Alaska was a chance to show what we had. We thought it was going to be another big season."
Following a blowout win over Mariner, Woodinville faced hard-hitting Newport. Not only did the Falcons suffer a tough loss to the Knights, but events portended badly for Kacmarcik.
"I stiff armed a guy and my shoulder got jerked back at a funny angle," he said. "It popped out and then back in."
A week later against Inglemoor, it ended for Kacmarcik.
"They ran a stretch play and I came up from the safety spot," he said. "I came up to deliver a hit. As soon as I delivered the blow, everything gave out. Instead of me driving through him, I just kind of rolled over. I got that numb feeling at first, and dangling (arm). This time it had popped out but wasn’t going back in.
"I went to the trainer and they were diagnosing what happened. All I wanted them to do was have it put back in (the socket). Then as I was lying on the table it slid back in. At first it was painful, and then the dreaded feeling of ‘what is next?’"
It was determined Kacmarcik had torn his labrum. It was too weak and vulnerable for him to play football, and his season ended.
Doctors performed surgery October 31st, and Kacmarcik is expected to fully recover.
"It was hard to have worked so hard for something and have it end abruptly," Kacmarcik said. "But life goes on."
Indeed it does. On Tuesday November 26th, Kacmarcik gave his verbal commitment to play football for Eastern Washington University.
The Woodinville Weekly will follow up with Alek next season to see how he’s doing.