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Calhoun football lifer finds health matters more

Oct. 6, 2011 at 5:06 a.m.

Logan Daigle sits in Sandcrab Stadium, where he played football before a knee injury against Victoria East last year ended his season, then a boating accident ended his high school playing career. Memory loss has been one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, he says. "I'd take a shower. Get out, have something to eat, go back and take another shower."

PORT LAVACA - Logan Daigle cannot recall the last time he missed a Calhoun football game.

He has watched with his father, Mark Daigle, since he was 4 years old. He has hung out with friends at Sandcrab Stadium. He even had the thrill of wearing the black and gold for the varsity the past two years.

When the Sandcrabs take the field Friday night for their highly anticipated game against Victoria East, Logan, a senior, will be in student section cheering, hoping and praying for victory in a game he has circled for 365 days.

"It's hard to watch all the games," he said. "I wish I was out there. East is a different story because there is so much history between us. I want to be out there. (Friday) will be our revenge, I guess."

Since last year's 35-14 loss to the Titans, Logan has witnessed injury, true courage and love. The life-altering ordeals of watching his mother beat cancer, sustaining a potentially fatal fractured skull and a devastating knee injury have a way of realigning one's priorities.

On Oct. 8, 2010, Logan was trying to put on a strong performance for his mother, Pat, who was battling breast cancer at the time. Both teams raised awareness for breast cancer during the game, and he was "really hyped up for that one."

Trailing 25-14 at halftime, Logan, a 6-foot, 3-inch 190-pound nose tackle who was all arms, legs and effort, recalled wanting to make up for the yardage the Calhoun defense allowed in the first half. His desperation led him to chase East quarterback Ervin Yates as he rolled out on a pass play in the second half.

"I didn't have my head on a swivel, as they coach me to do, and got that hit," he recalled. "I knew what exactly went wrong when I got hit. I was hoping and praying it wasn't what I thought it was, but it was."

The "it" was another torn anterior-cruciate ligament. This time, Logan's right knee gave in.

"As soon as it happened, we saw him go down, and we heard him," said Logan's father. "When they brought him off the field and put him on the stretcher, he was crying, and he was upset.

"He was looking at us saying, 'Please don't make me go through that surgery again,' and I said, 'Son, that is up to you.'"

Mark and Pat Daigle's son soon threw himself into rehabilitation and workouts. There was no way Logan was going to miss the 2011 rematch against the Titans.

If he did nothing else, he was going to find a way onto the field when the two teams played in Port Lavaca.

Logan approached his recovery with such a good spirit that he convinced his orthopedic surgeon to attend Friday night's game. The two developed a bond that began when he tore the ACL in his left knee during a basketball game when Logan was a sophomore. It continued when the two met again following his second injury.

Daigle called his son's second knee recovery "amazing." Less than two weeks after Logan's November surgery, he was off his crutches. Not too long after, his mother was deemed cancer-free, and Logan was running. By mid-June, his son was supposed to be cleared for football.

The appointment was slated for June 20. Logan never made it.

Instead, he was in intensive care in a Corpus Christi hospital after a June 17 accident while working on boats in Port O'Connor. No one knows the specifics of the injury. Logan, who does not remember what happened, was alone that Friday evening.

In 2009, Logan, along with friends Garrett Hill and Philip Lyssy started Third Coast Yacht Cleaning, taking care of boats and yachts for people docked in the St. Christopher's Marina in Port O'Connor.

"We always like him going down there with someone else so they can keep an eye on each other," his father said. "This time, one of the guys who worked with him was at a church camp, and the other was on vacation with his family, so Logan went down there by himself."

Daigle, a 23-year veteran of the Calhoun County Sherriff's Office, was working security for the Kevin Fowler concert that evening at the Port O'Connor Community Center a half mile away.

Just to ease his father's fears, Logan frequently checked in with his dad.

"The last time I talked to him, he said, 'Hey, I have to go to The Sanctuary and pick up something I left on a boat,'" Daigle said. "That was the last time I saw him. The next thing I know, they are calling to tell me they are taking him to the hospital, telling me he was acting strangely."

Logan had hopped in his truck and driven more than 15 miles to Seadrift to his brother Clay's house. He did this with what the family later found out was a fracture across the right side of his skull.

Clay, 21, did not like what he saw in his brother. He fell over, started vomiting, and just didn't look right. He was taken to the local hospital, yet even they could not figure out what was wrong with the 17-year-old.

At first, the family thought he may have been mugged and slipped a drug, so they asked for a toxicology test. During the tests and other procedures to figure out what was wrong, Clay kept insisting someone look at the knot on Logan's head.

"The doctor came back in a few minutes, he was with a horrible look on his face," Daigle said. "He told us, 'I have Life Flight on the way. He is bleeding on his brain, and we have to get him to a neurosurgeon, right now, immediately.' "

Daigle said he was used to being in control, but hearing the doctor left him feeling helpless.

Daigle might have felt helpless, but that did not stop him from taking action. When he found out Logan was being flown to one of the three Christus Spohn campuses in the Corpus Christi area, he called his sister, Veronica "Ronnie" Shea.

Shea, who was out running errands at the time, got to the hospital and was on the helipad when her nephew arrived. Let Logan tell it, and his father made the 95-mile drive in record time and nearly beat him to the hospital.

A second CT scan was conducted. This one revealed the bleeding from Logan's injury pushed his brain 6 millimeters off center. Surgery was not needed because the fracture was large enough to ease the swelling.

His hospital room was dark. The TV, if it was on, was kept really low. Any stimulation nauseated Logan. At times, he would speak with his family or nurses for a few moments, before going to sleep for hours.

As Logan spent the first of four days in intensive care, Shea used social media to keep family and others abreast of Logan's progress. She started a prayer chain for Logan because, at that point, this family who has attended Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church for four generations, turned to a higher healer.

Calhoun football coach Richard Whitaker and a few assistants visited Logan in the hospital within 24 hours of his accident.

"As a coach, these kids are like your own," said Whitaker, who said he considers Daigle a good friend. "It would be no different as if it were one of your own."

Daigle laughed at the memory of that visit.

Previously, a handful of people had called Logan's name. He had yet to respond to any of them. But when Whitaker and his assistants walked in, someone tried again. Daigle said his son "opened his eyes, looked around and said, 'What did I do?'" as though he were in trouble for not shedding another double team in the football trenches.

The injury ended the playing days of the self-described accident-prone athlete.

After all Logan endured to return from his knee injuries, the Calhoun County community collectively felt bad for him. Whitaker said he planned to move Logan from nose tackle to tight end this year.

Perhaps it would have been Logan, instead of another tight end, who streaked up the seam in the season-opening victory against Calallen and caught a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown in the Sandcrabs 27-7 victory.

Some teammates want to beat East tonight, not because they lost by three touchdowns in a game that decided the District 30-4A title last year. No, they want to beat East because Logan was knocked out of the game on a peel-back block from the Titans.

"You have a kid who had two ACL surgeries and he finally felt like he was getting released when this accident happened," Whitaker said. "It's sad, after all the hard work he put in, that he couldn't play."

Daigle, a defensive tackle on the 1983 Calhoun football team that defeated Victoria High 7-0, knows how much his son misses football. He was the one who used to take Logan to games long before the Sandcrabs were a formidable football team.

But both agree not playing football is a small sacrifice for what might have happened June 17.

"When we realized there was nothing more we could do but turn to God and pray, I think that was all of it," Daigle said. "That is what got us through it exclusively. To see (Logan) turn around like that and to see all the people who were asking about him, praying for him and concerned."

"There is no other way we can describe it than to say someone divine said, 'That's it. It's time for him to get better.' They flipped the switch, and he was better. That is all we could attribute it to."

Logan plans to attend Texas A&M-Kingsville next year to study engineering. Hill, his business partner also might join him at the school. As difficult as it has been to move on from the dream of playing football for Calhoun, he has.

Logan, along with friends Hill and Lyssy, spend a few days a week in Port O'Connor running their business. He sometimes shows up to practice to check in on friends like fullback Brandon Griffith and right guard Jamie Gutierrez and others. Above all, Logan does not miss watching a game.

"This was the one year I was prepared for," he said. "I was ready to come back. ... I was ready to come back and give it hell. I just didn't want it to end that way."

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