Cayuga running back scored three times despite pulled hamstring
MANSFIELD - Cayuga's Traylon Shead was not going to miss his last game of his high school career.
Especially since it was the Class A, Division II state championship.
Shead suffered a pregame injury, hurting his hamstring and there was a question if he was going to play in the state championship game. But Shead did play and helped lead the Wildcats to a 38-24 win over Albany to capture the school's first state football title.
"Traylon showed a lot of heart," Cayuga head coach Tommy Allison said. "There was no question he was hurt, but he went out there and led this team to a victory."
Shead rushed for 144 yards on 21 carries and scored three touchdowns. Shead finished his high school career with a record-setting 146 career touchdowns. Shead finished second on the all-time state rushing list with 10,291 yards.
During pregame warmups Saturday afternoon at Vernon Newsom Stadium, Shead pulled his hamstring while working on passing drills.
"I was running a fade route during warmups and I hurt it," Shead said.
The Cayuga coaching staff went into crisis mode trying to figure out what to do without the Associated Press Class A All-State Offensive Player of the Year.
"After Traylon tweaked his hamstring, we started to scramble," Allison said. "We did not know if Traylon was going to be able to go and we started to work on another game plan."
But Shead was not going to sit this one out.
"I knew without a doubt I was going to play," Shead said. "This was my last game, there was no question."
Shead worked on his hamstring on the sideline at the start of the game while Albany had the ball. Shead first got in the game on defense in the first quarter while the Lions held the ball for over 11 minutes before Cayuga's offense got its hands on the ball.
Once Cayuga got the ball for the first time, Shead did not come out for the first play which finished the first quarter. Shead was on the field to start the second quarter and had a 6-yard run before Malcome Kennedy's 68-yard touchdown.
Shead's next carry came two series later when he broke free for a 50-yard run to set up Cayuga's second touchdown.
Shead stayed in the game for both offense and defense for the rest of the first half and got his first touchdown on a 21-yard screen pass late in the half.
"Traylon showed a lot playing," Kennedy said. "We knew he was not at full strength, but he never quit."
At the start of the third quarter, Shead carried the ball for a 2-yard gain but limped off the field. He would come back one more time in the series to convert a third and one run.
"I had a cramp that we were trying to get stretched out," Shead said of coming out at the start of the third quarter.
Shead was back in on defense and played the remainder of the game on both sides of the ball.
In the fourth quarter, Shead and Kennedy took over as Cayuga went to its goal line package, taking running the ball right at Albany. In Cayuga's final two drives, Shead carried the ball 14 times including a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs to help win the state title.
"I told coach that I wanted the football," Shead said.