Broken arm, two surgeries not about to stop Hersey's McCall

  • Hersey's Max McCall carries the ball against Rolling Meadows earlier this season. The senior has come back from a broken arm that required two surgeries to repair.

      Hersey's Max McCall carries the ball against Rolling Meadows earlier this season. The senior has come back from a broken arm that required two surgeries to repair. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hersey senior football player Max McCall displays his arm that required two surgeries after be broke it in a game his sophomore year.

    Hersey senior football player Max McCall displays his arm that required two surgeries after be broke it in a game his sophomore year. COURTESY OF MAX MCCALL

 
 
Updated 4/10/2021 3:35 PM

The scar is getting better every day.

But it's still there. It's still fairly obvious, and it has given Max McCall a reputation ... one that he is quite proud of, by the way.

 

"I get a lot of compliments from the guys because it looks kind of tough," McCall said with a laugh. "It brings a little bit of attitude with it."

McCall, a senior fullback, linebacker and kicker at Hersey who almost never comes off the field, has a scar running down the inside of his right arm, from elbow to wrist. He broke his arm in a football game sophomore year trying to make a tackle.

As the 6-foot-1, 195-pound McCall closed in to wrap up; the knee of the player he was tackling smashed squarely into his forearm. The injury took not one, but two surgeries to fix, not to mention nearly nine months of physical therapy to rehab.

"I had never had any injuries like that, where I broke bones," McCall said. "That was tough to hear."

It was also tough to hear that the first surgery didn't quite get the job done. After months of rehab that wasn't producing the desired results, McCall had a second surgery in March of 2019, five months after his first surgery in October of 2018.

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He was discouraged, but he was never dissuaded from playing football.

McCall grew up playing soccer and baseball. He didn't even try football until his freshman year, and only because a group of friends kept nagging him to try it.

It turned out, football was McCall's thing. And a broken arm wasn't going to keep him from playing his newfound love.

Perhaps that explains why McCall feels doubly grateful to be playing football this spring in this uncertain COVID-19 landscape.

"I think about those friends who pushed me to join football freshman year and I'm just so glad they did," McCall said. "There's no other sport like football. It's a feeling like no other.

"I think it actually helps with my mental health. I'm so glad we're getting to play now. It gives me such joy and happiness to be able to be out there with all of my coaches and teammates, playing a sport I love."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Fast learner

McCall has been a quick study.

During his very first season of playing tackle football, McCall was groomed to be the starting quarterback of the freshman team. He was also turned into the team's kicker. His soccer background made him a prime candidate for that.

"We had a great season and I really bonded with the guys and we all kind of bought in to the program," McCall said of his freshman year. "The team needed a kicker and a quarterback. I remember making a 40-yard field goal, so I became the kicker. And I ended up throwing and running for a lot of touchdowns that year as our quarterback. That was fun."

By the end of his freshman season, McCall was also getting some assignments on defense, leaving his mark on all three facets of the game: offense, defense and special teams.

"We had a lot of good quarterbacks in the program, so I knew I probably wasn't going to play quarterback after freshman year. I started playing safety and linebacker sophomore year. I made the varsity, and that year, I was entirely on defense."

McCall added offensive duties back into the mix in 2019 and again this season. He serves as the team's halfback and gets some passes thrown his way, but he primarily blocks for the running back and quarterback.

Defensively, he's an outside linebacker for the second season in a row, and turns out, that's what he enjoys most.

"You could kind of see this coming I guess," McCall said of his love of defense. "Back when I played soccer, I was pretty physical, and I tried to run people off the ball, and my coach would always say, 'Max, this isn't football.'

"So I'm not surprised I like defense so much. I love going out and hitting someone."

McCall is coming off his best defensive game of the season. Against Prospect last week, he had an interception, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss.

"I remember when football first started last year, I was still a little worried about my arm and it affected the way I tackled," McCall said. "Now, it's fine. I don't even think about it."

McCall is just as matter-of-fact about his kicking duties.

He hasn't had many opportunities to kick field goals in Hersey's potent, high-scoring offense, but he has been essentially automatic in his many point-after attempts. He owns the school record at Hersey with more than 100 PATs.

"The coaches put out a stat sheet every year and every year, I'm up there in scoring," McCall said with a laugh. "We score so much on offense, those PATs really add up."

Between his kicking, his ability to play offense, his passion for defense and a 4.24 grade-point average, McCall turned himself into an intriguing college recruit.

He will be playing at Division III Washington University in St. Louis next year, and was recruited as a linebacker.

"I was thinking the other day about how absolutely crazy all of this has been," McCall said. "I just started football a few years ago and it ended up being something I love so much that I want to do it the next four years. It's my passion."

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