By MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY —
Already having started 29 games at quarterback, it was inevitable that one day somebody other than Riley Bullough would be taking snaps for St. Francis.
That day came sooner than expected.
After breaking the collarbone in his right shoulder last week, Bullough won’t be on the field this week for the Gladiators. And at this point, his return is unknown.
“He had surgery today,” St. Francis coach Greg Vaughan said. “His timeline will be whenever the bone is fully healed and he can go through rehab. Luckily, this is something that will heal, and heal fast. And it won’t affect his future.”
Bullough is verbally committed to play outside linebacker next year at Michigan State. The injury should not impact his college career. Michigan State coaches have told the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Bullough that they’re not wavering on their scholarshp offer.
“It’s not going to be a burden,” Vaughan said. “I don’t know if (his status with Michigan State) was a worry for Riley. It speaks to the kind of people Michigan State has right now. Mark Dantonio is a stand-up guy. They wanted him before and they still do.”
Bullough injured his shoulder on a run during the first half last Friday at Charlevoix. St. Francis went on to win 19-0.
“Watching it on tape, it wasn’t vicious on any part,” Vaughan said. “He was hit outside of his shoulder, it just happed to be the right hit for his collarbone to break. It was a fluke thing.”
For St. Francis, it’s the second straight year that the Gladiators have lost their best player with an injury.
Last season, fullback Joe Kerridge suffered a knee injury during seven-on-seven summer drills and didn’t play a down for the Gladiators. Fully healthy, Kerridge walked on at the University of Michigan and has dressed — but not played — for the Wolverines this fall.
“(Bullough’s return) depends on how fast he heals,” Vaughan said. “Knowing Riley and what kind of body he has, who knows. Last year, Joey was leaps and bounds ahead of schedule. It’s a wait-and-see type of thing.”
At 4-1 and tied atop the Lake Michigan Conference standings, St. Francis will look to replace Bullough at quarterback — where he started the last 29 games for the Glads — and at linebacker.
“Football is a beautiful game because it takes 11 guys,” Vaughan said. “When one goes down, another one steps in. That’s what happened in Charlevoix. We haven’t missed a beat yet in practice.”
Seth Kellicut — a 6-foot, 200-pound senior — will be one of the players looking to replace Bullough. He’s been the team’s backup quarterback this season and will be in the mix with Adam Armour to fill the hole on defense.
Seth Currie, the team’s kicker, will also get a look at quarterback. The junior was brought up midway through last season to backup Bullough at quarterback, as well as take over kicking duties.
“Seith and Austin are both athletes,” Vaughan said. “We don’t have to stop doing what we’ve been doing. They both can throw the ball as much as we need them to.”
St. Francis is on the road this week at Boyne City.