Injured Burke County senior inspires teammates

Bears close in on goal set by player
Burke County's Tavarius Washington (center) will have to root on his teammates from the sidelines in the state semifinals on Friday after sustaining a biceps injury that cut short his season.

Before the season started, Burke County coach Eric Parker sat with the seniors and wondered if they wanted to be an average team or a good team.


Tavarius Washington stood up and answered.

"I said, 'I want to win it all.' "

The Bears are two victories away from turning Washington's goal into a reality, as Burke County has won 10 games in a row and visits unbeaten Carrollton in the Class AAA semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

But Washington won't be on the field. Instead, he'll be watching from the sidelines, staying involved as much as he can.

In the week leading up to the Washington County game on Oct. 22, the tight end/defensive end overran a play in practice. His arm was extended and someone ran into it. Washington used "snap" to describe the injury, which was a torn biceps.

Washington, who previously played at Hephzibah, said though "it never really hurt" either before or after the surgery, there was a tingling sensation.

The senior went to the doctor, and since he was told the injury wouldn't start healing on its own for three weeks, Washington could play three more games.

So for that short period, Washington played, knowing his time was limited.

In less than a month, Washington tore his biceps, posted 14 unassisted tackles -- six assisted -- had two tackles for loss and made a reception in three games and then had the surgery before the Bears' first-round playoff game against Crisp County.

With the surgery, it came time to miss action. First there was the brace. That's gone, though the arm is now in a sling. Soon, it'll be time to go back to the doctor.

Through it all, there hasn't been much sulking. Instead, Washington has kept his and his team's spirits up, adding Burke County's run is a result of non-stop work both on the field and in the classroom.

Quarterback Corey Mayton said Washington is there every day, be it for practice or on Sundays to watch film -- usually one of the first to show.

The junior sees Washington as a source of inspiration, and senior lineman Willie Williams considers Washington his best friend.

"We've been playing for us and him," Williams said.

Washington said he has no idea where he'll go for college, but Parker said the senior is expected to make a full recovery and could see a football future with a smaller school.

After posting a team-best 122 tackles in 2009, Washington finished this season with about 50, including eight tackles for loss, despite the missed time.

Washington knows he can no longer make an impact as a Bear, at least between the 20s.

But there is an on-field optimistic certainty he has.

"A Burke County win," Washington said with a smile about what he expects on Friday. "I don't know the score, but I know (that)."



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