(COVINGTON, La.) — During Friday’s football playoff game against Archbishop Shaw (Nov. 11), junior Michael Doherty remained prostrate on the field after an interception made by linebacker Paul Gremillion. The entire stadium stood in silence and confusion as uncertainty swept across the crowd. Doherty was down for almost 20 minutes as training staff and EMTs very carefully prepped Doherty, lifted him onto a stretcher, and wheeled him to an ambulance which transported him to St. Tammany Parish Hospital.
“I saw the hit he took,” SPS football player Noah Seiden said. “I knew it was a hard hit, but I didn’t think that it would in any way hurt Michael. I started to jog back to the sidelines when I turned around and saw him still on the ground. I’m still shocked.”
Speculation arose as many in the stands couldn’t decipher how exactly Michael was hit. So what exactly happened during this play that caused this horrific injury to Doherty?
After Gremillion intercepted a pass thrown by Shaw’s Pete Taylor, the Wolves’ defense scrambled to block a path for Gremillion to break lose. In the turmoil, another Wolves defender set a textbook block on Shaw’s D’Quan Charles, and just so happened to push him right into the path of Doherty. Doherty collided into both the SPS defender and Charles, and fell straight to the ground. Doherty lay on the ground motionless, his arms suspended above his head as if he was frozen.
The coincidental collision that injured Doherty caused a break at his C5 vertebrae, and a fracture on his C4 vertebrae. Surgery performed that night was successful in relieving pressure on the spinal cord, and restored blood flow in the artery on the right side of his neck. Afterwards, a CT scan revealed that his vertebral column had lined up properly. It is unknown at this point whether Doherty will regain full use of his upper and lower extremities, but his family remains hopeful and optimistic. An injury like this will bring a long and strenuous recovery, but Doherty’s stellar physical condition and the support of the St. Paul’s community will aid in his recovery, the Doherty family says.
Word of Doherty’s injury has quickly spread through the St. Paul’s community and beyond. This weekend, New Orleans Saints’ cornerback Delvin Breaux sent a tweet out to Doherty saying, “Prayers up young warrior.” Breaux then FaceTimed Doherty, telling him how he had a similar injury while in high school, and how he recovered. Breaux also mentioned in a tweet that he will try to pay Doherty a visit in the near future.
On Sunday, two days following the incident, a prayer service was held for Doherty at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Mandeville. The service, led by former SPS religion teacher Austin Ashcraft, was attended by friends, classmates, family, and teammates of Doherty. The service was packed to the point of people having to stand along the sides of the church.
Doherty may have a long road of recovery ahead of him, but there’s no doubt that the entire student body of St. Paul’s, and the surrounding community, will be with him every step of the way.
“We offer prayer and support to Michael and his family,” Brother Ray stated in his weekly newsletter. “May all our holy Christian Brother saints intercede with Almighty God on Michael’s behalf!”
Doherty remains hospitalized in intensive care at Lakeview Regional Medical Center. His family continues to ask for prayers from the St. Paul’s community. Updates on his condition will regularly be posted to the “Mighty Michael” Facebook page.
Two funds have been set up to help with Doherty’s medical expenses. Donations can be made to the “Michael Doherty Benefit Fund” at any Whitney Bank or at the following GoFundMe link: www.gofundme.com/mighty-michael-doherty.