Injured Laurel Highlands football player Antwan Black, flown by medical helicopter, ‘in good spirits’

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Saturday, September 9, 2023 | 12:52 PM


As injured teammate Antwan Black Jr. was on his way to the hospital, first by ambulance and then by helicopter, Laurel Highlands players had a tough decision to make.

Should they play the final 34 seconds or cancel the rest of the game?

“We just kind of said, ‘This is up to you guys,’ ” Laurel Highland coach Rich Kolesar said. “‘How do you feel? Do you feel you want to continue playing this game? Do you want to call it?’”

Black had taken a scary hit to the head after making a catch late in Friday’s game at Kiski Area and was briefly motionless on the turf. He was flown to Allegheny General Hospital, said Kolesar, who visited Black in the hospital after the game.

The junior was doing better within hours, Kolesar said, adding that Black had “full feeling and full movement” and was “in good spirits.” He already was alert and talking before being put into the ambulance, and his teammates elected to finish the game.

“They said, ‘We feel Antwan would want us to play,’” Kolesar said. “‘He would want to play, so we’re going to go play for him.’ That was their decision, and I supported it.”

Black, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound defensive back and wide receiver, is one of the top college recruits in the WPIAL. He has scholarship offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and Toledo.

The game resumed after a nearly 40-minute delay, and Kiski Area held on for a 28-24 victory. Kolesar said he’d never before had a situation like this with one of his player.

“It was definitely a scary time for a little while last night,” he said.

Unfortunately, Laurel Highlands wasn’t the only WPIAL team that saw a teammate taken away by ambulance Friday. Shenango coach Jimmy Graham and Sto-Rox’s Marvin Mills, who both had injured players taken to UPMC Childrens, said they were doing better Saturday.

Shenango lineman Michael Egetoe was transported by helicopter after a potential concussion and hip injury, Graham said. Egetoe had gotten to his feet on the field but then fell again.

Mills said the injured Sto-Rox player walked off the field with what was thought to be a stinger but didn’t feel well and laid down on the sideline.

Their teammates completed the games.

“It was definitely terrifying,” Mills said. “I have a young team. So, to try to gather those kids back up and get them back going, or at least try to get them back going, is difficult. It was pretty emotional for them.”

Graham said Shenango had seen this happen once before a couple of years ago, but it was an opposing player who was taken away then by medical helicopter.

“I think (the players) understand the risks when they play football,” Graham said. “It’s like anything. You play for your teammate, your fallen comrade. The good thing is (Egetoe) seems to be doing OK from the shoulders up at this point.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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