JOHNS CREEK Ga. — Chattahoochee head football coach Mike Malone said lineman Caleb Ashely is doing well and resting following a frightening on-field incident that required the junior to be carted off the field and transported to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
While bumps and bruises, strains and stingers are expected throughout the football season, Ashley’s injury appeared to be far worse. On a play in the final minutes of the fourth quarter of Hooch’s Friday night game at Pope, Ashley made helmet to helmet contact with a Pope player and remained motionless on the turf.
After a lengthy delay in the silent stadium, medical personnel placed Ashley on a backboard before he was transported by ambulance to the hospital. After conferring, coaches of both Pope and Chattahoochee elected to stop the game with around two minutes remaining and the Greyhounds leading 34-17.
Though the outlook seemed grim at the time, Ashley was released from the hospital a few hours after arriving, and he is recovering well at home, Malone said.
“He is doing well, just at home sleeping and getting rest,” he said. “We are just so thankful. It was one of those really, really scary moments, something you can never prepare for. But I’m so thankful and blessed with a great community and support staff, and the protocol that was in place when it happened, everyone worked tremendously together. They were proactive in getting him where he needed to be.”
Malone also shared thanks to Pope, who played host to Friday’s game.
“I want to thank the Pope community, they did a tremendous job in the support from the fans and their thoughts and prayers,” Malone said. “We are very appreciative for them.”
While their thoughts certainly were not on the final score of Friday’s game when it was called, now that Ashley is doing well Hooch can look back on the contest, their third Region 7-AAAAAA loss.
Hooch and Pope battled throughout the matchup, which was tied at 17 midway through the third quarter, but the Greyhounds found separation with 17 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes of play.
“It was another game in the process as we move in the direction where we are trying to take the program,” Malone said. “The kids gave a tremendous effort and fought hard, but unfortunately we wound up on the wrong end of the stick.”
Malone, in his first season at the helm, has made it a point to change the culture at Hooch following their winless campaign last year. Strides have been taken, but it is still a work in progress.
“I tell the guys, we have only been together for four and a half months, Rome wasn’t built in a day, we just have to stay the course and believe in one another,” Malone said.
Malone said his team has the correct mindset for improvement, but the culture change is a process.
“One of the biggest things for them is learning how to win in terms of putting four quarters together and being able to execute in all three phases of the game. I think we are learning how to do that, but of course, that will take time. I think the kids understand that, and they are staying positive and staying the course.”
The Cougars (1-4, 0-3) continue their Region 7-AAAAAA Oct. 4 against Cambridge.