Nornal West quarterback Alex Jefferson had surgery Monday to repair a fractured tibia in his right leg. (You Name It Sports/Sandy Adams)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL - Normal West standout quarterback Alex Jefferson will be out 6 to 8 weeks with a fractured tibia.
Jefferson, who underwent surgery Monday morning, suffered the injury to his right tibia in the first half of Friday's 35-23 victory over Unit 5 rival Normal Community in Big 12 Conference action.
Despite the injury, West coach Darren Hess remains confident about the Class 6A sixth-ranked Wildcats, who have won 18 straight regular-season games. They carry a 5-0 record into Friday's conference matchup at Urbana at 7 p.m. The Tigers are 3-1 in the Big 12 and 4-1 overall.
"We have other weapons," said Hess. "We're going to have to rely more on our receivers and running game. Even though A.J. was a big cog for us, we're not a one-man team. People need to step up in all three segments (offense, defense and special teams) and obviously we had several do that Friday.
"They understood the situation and stepped up. We had a similar situation happen last year with Cory Ortiz, so the kids have been through this before. That helped us Friday and will help is the rest of the season."
Junior Greg Hiltbrandt replaced Jefferson against NCHS and completed 5 of 7 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown to keep the Wildcats in control of the game.
"Like anything else, we've got things that we develop for each player. We'll develop (offensive) packages that fit his style of game and go from there," added Hess. "Even though he doesn't have quite the same athletic skills as Alex, he still has a strong arm and we can do a lot of what we already do with him."
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jefferson is among the Intercity leaders in scoring, passing, rushing and punting. He has had a hand in 20 touchdowns this season, running for 10 and passing for 10.
He has completed 66 of 118 passes for 959 yards, while rushing for 655 yards on 67 carries. He also averages 42.3 yards per punt.
Hess said there is an outside chance Jefferson, the reigning WJBC Player of the Year, could return for the playoffs in five weeks.
"Each person is different in the recovery process," Hess added.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org