Boy, 10, hurt at football practice

A Columbus fifth-grader playing for a youth football team was taken to the hospital after suffering a possible head injury at practice.

Eli Breeden, 10, of Columbus, was taken by ambulance to Columbus Regional Hospital at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday, said John Larrison, the team’s head coach. Eli was injured while blocking on a kickoff return at a Bartholomew County Bears practice at Taylorsville Elementary School, the coach said.

Breeden was hit in the chest during the tackle and witnesses believe his head snapped back and may have hit the ground, Larrison said.

A LifeLine helicopter was initially called to transport Breeden to the hospital, but the player was instead transported by ambulance to Columbus.

The boy was conscious and sitting in a chair on the sidelines before being taken to the hospital.

“He got hit, it hurt him and he came off to the sideline,” Larrison said. “He took his helmet off, and he was fine, eyes open and everything and walking around, but was hurting. They sat him down, and that’s when he started kind of withdrawing a bit, where he wasn’t trying to talk to anybody.

“But then once his mom got here, his eyes opened up and he was talking again,” he said.

Coaches had Jen Wagner, an emergency room nurse with Columbus Regional Hospital who was at the practice facility, call 911 to have Breeden checked to make sure there were no head injuries.

“He never lost consciousness,” Wagner said. “He’s awake, but he’s slow to answer questions, and he has some weakness on the left side. I think he’s concussed. I hope that’s all it is.”

The incident brought back memories of another youth football player who was seriously injured Nov. 1 in a Police Athletic Activities League game in Columbus.

Calvin Clark of Hayden, a fullback who played on the age 12-and-under Jennings Panthers youth football team, was injured during a league game after a tackle and later collapsed on the sidelines.

He was taken by ambulance to Columbus Regional Hospital and then to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis where he had surgery to relieve a blood clot in his brain and was listed in critical condition.

Clark made slow, but remarkable improvement, moving to a rehabilitation wing at the end of 2014 and returning home in early February.

The Jennings County community rallied behind the player and the Clark family, sponsoring numerous fundraising events and using the hashtag #calvinstrong to share news of his recovery and progress.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.