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Taylor won’t be slowed down

After blowing out his knee, coach is gearing up for Del Oro’s brutally tough schedule
By: Joshua Ansley Journal Sports Writer
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Coach Casey Taylor’s 62-12 record, compiled over seven years with Del Oro football, is a testament to how useful team bonding trips can be. A more connected team is a successful team. For Taylor, however, the trip to Rollin’s Lake started out a little different than in years past. “After dinner on the first night we started playing volleyball,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t bump set spike, or anything really super organized like that. We were just playing around. I went up to sort of spike the ball, more like just hitting it over, and I landed wrong.” On July 19, Taylor came down on his right knee, rupturing his patellar tendon. The tendon stretches from the upper to lower part of the knee, and holds the kneecap in place. Starting quarterback Max Magleby was playing on Taylor’s team that night, and witnessed him fall to the ground. “I didn’t really know how badly he was hurt until he wasn’t getting up,” Magleby said. “My first thought was how is this going to affect our team? Is he going to push us harder now because he’s in pain?” Assistant coach Steve Birch immediately drove Taylor to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. Two days later Taylor had surgery to repair the tendon. It was the first major injury Taylor has ever had, even after playing four years of football at Oak Ridge, and starting at linebacker for two years at San Francisco State. “I had a meniscus thing in college, but it wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “And only had some minor cartilage problems. I’m just getting older.” Taylor said the recovery process is frustrating for him because he is used to being up and about. Whether or not Taylor is on his feet, Del Oro will be tested right from the start. The Golden Eagles play Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas on Aug. 28. Bishop Gorman was 15-0 last year, and is currently No. 36 in the nation according to ESPN’s fab 50 rankings. Facing such a tough oppenant right from the start will test Taylor’s resolve. “It’s hard to be patient,” he said. “And there’s been times I’ve gotten kind of down on myself. Especially the first week where I was bed ridden and it was very painful. It should be about four weeks out of surgery that I can get up and walk around again.” Taylor is doing his best to not do too much before he is ready. “I’ve just got to deal with it,” Taylor said. “I’m really trying to rest it and do what the doctors tell me.” He is thinking long term, knowing that twice a day conditioning starts on Monday, and he has to get his team ready. He has no plans of missing any time with his team. “I’m just fortunate it’s me, and not one of our players,” Taylor said. “I’ll probably use the crutches some of the time and the wheelchair other times. Maybe even use a golf cart.” Taylor did not join the other coaches during their scouting of Bishop Gorman because he was advised not to fly following surgery. As far as the first game, on the road, against a tough opponent, Taylor insists he will be with his team. “Oh I’m going,” Taylor said. Taylor does not plan on missing out at all this season with a group of upcoming juniors that went 20-0 over the last two seasons, and at least seven players returning who made significant contributions on both sides of the ball last year. “We have the best offense that we’ve had in a long time,” Taylor said. Senior offensive lineman Ryan Cope, now listed at 6’4, 305 pounds, will be the largest obstacle for opposing defenses. Taylor will also have wide receiver Daniel Thomas, a varsity sophomore last year, and a returning quarterback in Magleby, who completed 65 percent of his passes as a junior last year. With Daniel Thomas and Magleby already having one season together under their belts, they should be difficult to stop for opposing defense. “Me and him can read each other’s minds almost,” Magleby said. “He knows I’ll read him, and I know he’ll check down and read me.” Regardless of the talent and camaraderie Del Oro will have this year, given the competition that Del Oro faces each year, no season is an easy one. “I’d like to see anyone with a harder schedule in Northern California,” Taylor said. “Our league contains four teams that were ranked in the top 15 in the state last year. Outside our league we’ve got Bishop Gorman who won the Nevada State Championship last year, and Bullard that was 13-0.” So long as everyone else stays healthy, Taylor is a believer in facing the toughest competition he can find. “To be the best you’ve got to play the best,” he said. “It gives you a good idea of where you’re at. There won’t be any surprises when the season starts.” He is confident his team can turn some heads this year with the hand he’s been dealt. “We’ve got the best line we’ve had in a long time,” Taylor said. “We’re not as big as we were last year, but we are very smart and make very good decisions. And we have a really good core.” With so many great teams on the schedule, Taylor says it will come down to the little things. “It will come down to a few plays and good execution,” Taylor said. “As long as we stay healthy, play hard, and play together, we’re going to have a great season. We had a great spring and a great summer. Now we’ll see how close our really team is, and how well they can stay together when they start facing adversity.” As for Taylor’s well-being and the uncertainty of his interaction in practice, Magleby knows his coach is going to give it everything he has. “He is the most enthusiastic guy I’ve known,” Magleby said. “He’ll put his hat on backwards, get out there, and go full bore. Even if he has too do it from a wheelchair, he’ll be there.”