Hampton’s Joey Mayer makes ‘remarkable’ return

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Saturday, October 22, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Hampton senior quarterback Joey Mayer climbed into an ambulance in mid-September with a dislocated left elbow and a broken heart.

“The whole night, the whole ambulance ride to the hospital, I thought my season was over,” he said. “They initially said, ‘You are not going to be playing again.’ “

But Mayer, injured during a 38-0 victory over Kiski Area on Sept. 16, wasn’t ready to see his final season of high school football come to an end.

Also an all-conference defensive back, Mayer attacked his rehabilitation, while junior Adrian Midgley went 1-1 at quarterback against Armstrong and Connellsville.

Mayer returned to practice Oct. 5. Two days later, he played defense in a 13-7 overtime loss at North Catholic, and played on both sides of the ball in a 42-7 victory against Indiana on Oct. 14, throwing two touchdown passes and running for another TD.

“It was just a good feeling,” Mayer said after practice as the playoff-hopeful Talbots prepared for their Oct. 21 Greater Allegheny showdown with rival Mars. “It (stunk) not being able to out there with my boys who I’ve been practicing with all this season since the summer.”

Said Hampton coach Steve Sciullo, “For him to be able to play the way he played, it was just a remarkable effort.”

Mayer’s season was in doubt after he landed wrong on his left, non-throwing arm while being tackled in the second quarter against Kiski Area. He stayed on the field in pain for about 10 minutes while team trainers reset his dislocated elbow.

“I got my legs taken out from under me and I went to go put (my arm) out and as soon as it hit the ground, (my elbow) just snapped,” he said. “It came out, and it just was flopping around everywhere. It was disgusting.”

Mayer believed his Hampton football days were over until the following night, when X-rays revealed no broken bones, just severely stretched tendons.

“They said with the movement I had at that point, there was a chance that my strength would be there and I would be able to come back,” he said, “and here I am.”

After resting his elbow for about 10 days, Mayer began physical therapy. He received treatments four days a week, using ice and heat as well as an electronic system that stimulated the muscles and helped remove the swelling.

“I was trying to get back as fast as possible,” he said. “I started to get better mentally whenever I gained some of my range of motion back.

“It was really, really stiff those first five days. In my head, I was thinking, ‘I’m never going to be able to move this thing.’ That sixth day, I woke up and I was like, ‘I can actually move it today.’ “

On Oct. 5, just 19 days after the injury, Mayer handed Sciullo his clearance papers showing the dual-threat quarterback was medically approved to return to practice and games.

“I looked at it, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” Sciullo said. “That’s a serious injury, and for him to come back pretty quickly is a testament to how badly he wanted to play.”

Mayer wears a brace to mobilize his left elbow as well as padding on the arm. He said he is “pretty close” to having full range of motion and felt normal in his return to game action.

“Falling to the ground, it can be rough sometimes,” he said. “It’s just way more sore than my right elbow would be.”

But Mayer is willing to accept the discomfort for the Talbots, who needed to win one of their final two games to have a chance at reaching the WPIAL playoffs for the third year in a row.

He had come a long way since that agonizing 40-minute ride to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh one month earlier.

“In the ambulance, I actually didn’t even care about football at that point,” he said. “It was hurting so bad. I just wanted my arm to feel good. It was excruciating. They said it probably hurt more because they reset as soon as possible. That’s the healthiest way, but they said that’s probably what the pain was.”

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