Kennewick Senior Battles Back from Severe Injury - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Kennewick Senior Battles Back from Severe Injury

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KENNEWICK, Wash - The night started like any other football game against arch-rival Kamiakin.  Under the lights at Lampson fans packed the stands decked out in orange and black or red and yellow, screaming for their favorite team until they lost their voices.  On the field, dressed in Lion orange and black, stood Kennewick High Senior Luke Loftus.  He was playing his final game against his biggest rival and was ready to lay it all on the line for a victory; little did he know it would be his final football game for the Lions.

"I was going across the middle to catch a pass and I caught it but I got hit really hard," says Loftus.  "I thought my ribs were broken and it knocked the wind out of me.  But they checked me out on the sidelines and said I didn't have any broken ribs so I ended up going back in and playing the rest of the game."  Loftus finished the game with a touchdown and an interception, although the Lions ended up losing to the Braves 37-18.  A loss to their rivals however, turned out to be the least of Luke's worries.

"After the game I started peeing blood so I went to the hospital.  The doctor told me I had two lacerations on one of my kidneys."

Luke was absolutely terrified, but not because he thought his life would be in danger.  "I was scared but I was more scared that I wouldn't be able to play football for the rest of the season," Luke says candidly.

Unfortunately for Luke his football season did end after that game.  The doctors told him that if he was hit hard again his kidney would likely burst and he would die on the field.  Luke watched the rest of his team's games from the sidelines, in his varsity letter jacket, trying his hardest to smile and act like it wasn't bothering him that he would never play football for the orange and black ever again.

Skip ahead 5 months to last Friday.  It's an overcast day in Kennewick, a chilly breeze going through the outfield as the p.a. announcer tells us who's standing next to home plate:  "Now batting for the Lions, the left-fielder, number 22, Luke Loftus."

"If I wouldn't have been able to play baseball either I would have been devastated," says Loftus.  After months and months of check-ups and work-outs Loftus was finally cleared by doctors to play baseball.

"I think this is the best thing for him," says Lions head baseball coach A.J. Marquardt.  "He needs to get back on the field and be around his buddies."

And Luke, being the dedicated athlete that he is, hasn't missed a beat.  In that at bat Luke hit a triple to right field that turned into a home-run after a throwing error.  He chuckled as he crossed home plate where he was greeted by his teammates cheering for his effort.  It was a smile that said, 'this is why I play the game.' 

"People always say to play every game, every play like it's your last.  I never thought that was real until that happened to me in football," says Loftus.  "Don't take anything for granted because you never know if that's going to be the end."