Player injured in Tift-Valdosta game sent to trauma center

Jackson Strickland plays during May's Water Bowl.

TIFTON — A Tift County football player who received substantial injuries in a game with Valdosta Thursday is expected to recover but is out for the rest of the season, according to athletic sources.

Jackson Strickland, a 15-year-old tenth-grader who plays both junior varsity and varsity for the Tift County Blue Devils, was injured in a junior varsity home game with the Valdosta Wildcats, said Jayne Gray, secretary for Tift High School's athletic department.

The accident took place during a play where the ball was rolling loose on the ground "and a bunch of players from both sides piled on it," said Alan Rodemaker, Valdosta High's head coach.

Another player came down on top of Strickland, who was in the pileup, Gray said.

"We didn't know how serious it was at first because he walked off the field," she said. "It was not a dirty play at all."

"He was on the sideline, and a few minutes later he was spitting blood," Rodemaker said.

Trainers attended to the boy, and his parents took him to a hospital in Tifton, Gray said. At the hospital, doctors decided to send him to a trauma center in Macon, she said.

He suffered from four cracked ribs, a laceration to the liver, and partially collapsed lungs where blood was pooling, Gray said.

Friday, Gray said she had talked to Strickland's mother, who said he was much improved and could possibly come home Saturday. However, he is out for the rest of the season, she said.

"We only have one more junior varsity game," Gray said. "But he played varsity as well ... he's been told he needs many weeks to rest and recover."

Tift County won the game 43-15.

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