Columbus North junior quarterback Trenton Kelley, who was injured in Friday night’s sectional final football loss at Center Grove, will have his spleen removed today, said his father Dennis.

Trenton Kelley suffered a ruptured spleen on the first drive of the game and was taken by ambulance to Community South Hospital. He was transferred to Methodist Hospital, where doctors did a two-hour surgery early Saturday morning to stop bleeding from his arteries.

“It was crowding a few other things around there, so we decided that getting it removed would be the best option for us,” Dennis Kelley said.

Trenton Kelley, who tied a school record with 25 touchdown passes this season, was intercepted by Center Grove’s Keegan Gephart a little more than a minute into Friday’s game. After Kelley tackled Gephart along the Trojan sideline, Gephart got up and pushed Kelley down onto the track and was given a personal foul penalty and ejected from the game.

The interception was nullified by a defensive holding penalty, so the Bull Dogs kept the ball, and Kelley stayed in the game. But two plays later, he was hit as he threw and was picked off again.

“He wasn’t real sure exactly which (hit caused the injury),” Dennis Kelley said. “He got hit multiple times there. It wasn’t really until he got over to the sidelines that he realized how bad he was hurting.”

North athletics director Jeff Hester said he received a note Monday from Robert Faulkens, an IHSAA assistant commissioner who oversees football, asking Hester if he knew about the injury. Hester and assistant AD Wayne Roberts had gone to the hospital to be with Kelley on Friday night.

Hester provided The Republic with video of the play from a broadcast on Friday. The video shows a Center Grove player stepping on Kelley’s knee as he tries to step over him to congratulate Gephart.

“He did get pushed down on the track, and Center Grove players did swarm him,” Hester said. “I personally did not see any punches or kicks. Our players who were close to the action said that was what did happen. (Video) shows him getting thrown to the ground, but it doesn’t show him getting punched or kicked.”

North team doctor Cary Guse said the normal recovery period for a ruptured spleen is six to eight weeks, but that for a spleen removal is only four to six weeks. The 6-foot-6 Kelley was a key reserve on the Bull Dogs’ basketball team last winter and was projected as a starter this season.

Guse said Kelley would not have a problem playing football without a spleen his senior year of high school or in college.

“In some ways, it’s probably safer,” Guse said. “The spleen is one of the areas that gets damaged more than others. There are certain bacteria that the spleen helps to fight, but that’s the only major issue with not having your spleen.”

Dennis Kelley said the staff at Methodist have been fantastic since Trenton arrived there on Friday night.

Dennis Kelley said his son watched college and pro football games over the weekend and was able to communicate with doctors at the hospital and with friends and family at the hospital and on social media.

He said football coaches Tim Bless and Jason Perry and trainers Steve Souder and Ashley Martin, as well as other teammates and friends, have been to Methodist to see Trenton.

“It’s been an outpouring of support from the Columbus area,” Dennis Kelley said. “It’s not the way he wanted to end the season and not the way anybody wants to go through things. But overall, his spirits have been very positive.”

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5628.