PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE 12/3/19:
Brandon Penn is a name many in the Mid-Ohio Valley high school football community recognize. In their 2019 season, Penn served as quarterback and as defensive back for Parkersburg South High School. In their final playoff game against Martinsburg High School, Penn broke his back fighting for a chance to play in the state championship.
Fumbled by the Martinsburg quarterback, the ball was picked up by a Bulldog lineman who began to run with it, and Brandon Penn wasn’t about to let him get away.
“I just ran and hit him as hard as I could in his leg. Unfortunately, he fell right on me. And one of my other teammates jumped on the pile causing me to break my back,” said Penn.
Penn says he nearly passed out from the initial crack of his back, but didn’t want his team to worry. With help, he walked off the field with fractured vertebrae.
“My only goal was just try to breath, because that was pretty hard to do at that moment,” said Penn.
“They brought him over to the little bench, and of course I went down to see how serious it was and of course right away they wanted to send him to have x-rays or a CT before he did anything,” said April Penn, Brandon’s mother.
Once he arrived at the Berkeley Medical Center, he was given medicine to ease his breathing.
“Everything is a whirlwind. You know, with the doctors coming in, nurses, the ambulance bringing him in,” said April Penn. “It’s upsetting to see your kid like that, laying there, you know.”
Once the commotion settled, Penn saw a lot of visitors.
“My teammates came to visit me. Everyone in the community… most people in the community, it was just good. It calmed me down,” said Penn.
In a show of good sportsmanship, a few Martinsburg players came to check on Penn.
“It was a good feeling. Just the amount of respect they showed. It was a really good feeling,” said Penn.
“It just shows that some of those boys, such good sportsmanship. Even the boy that actually fell on Brandon was one of the boys that came,” said April Penn.
With fractured L1 and T12 vertebrae, Penn went into surgery the following morning.
He’ll be less mobile than usual for a few weeks, but he’s determined to get back on the football field.
“College football is definitely the next step. I’m undecided as of the moment, right now. Because I’m still waiting to see how many offers roll in. But, yeah I have my eyes on a few colleges,” said Penn.
Penn decided not to try out for basketball this season so he could focus on training for college football. His mom says it’s his choice to keep going, but she does worry.
“I know he loves it. You know, it’s a part of his passion. You support your kid I guess. Does that mean it’ll be easy? No,” said April Penn.
Brandon will return to school as soon as he’s feeling up to it. For now, he’s getting much needed rest.
ORIGINAL STORY 12/2/19:
Parkersburg South football star Brandon Penn was injured during the final game of their post-season run against Martinsburg.
Coach Nathan Tanner of Parkersburg South says Penn’s back was injured after Penn was forced into an unusual position while tackling a larger opponent. His T12 and L1 vertebrae were fractured, requiring surgery.
A handful of Martinsburg players visited Penn while he was hospitalized in a show of good sportsmanship.
Tanner was told by Penn’s parents the family will be returning to Parkersburg Monday evening.
Tanner says Penn will be less mobile than usual for a few weeks, but he is expected to fully recover.
“I think he’ll do whatever he has to do to bounce back and you know, play again. I really don’t worry about that, I think he’ll have a full recovery,” said Tanner.
WTAP has reached out to the Penn family and expects to hear from them Tuesday.