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Arden forced to cheer from sidelines

Redgie Arden is one of the players who is excited, but his excitement is mixed with inner disappointment.

Thursday, December 02, 1999

Redgie Arden is one of the players who is excited, but his excitement is mixed with inner disappointment. A knee injury the ninth game of the season at Belfry, Ky., sidelined Arden for the season, forcing him to be a spectator throughout the Fighting Tigers tournament run.

Arden arrives at practice every day and travels with the team to the games. He paces the sideline with a single crutch under his arm.

"I’m cheering them on. I’m their biggest cheerleader right now. I might as well get the pompoms out," said Arden with a chuckle.

But Arden has moments when his enthusiasm understandably wanes. A vicious hitter at his linebacker position on defense and an aggressive blocker at tight end, sitting on the sidelines is difficult for someone who loves not only playing the game, but practicing as well.

"It’s boring. Real boring," Arden said of watching the Fighting Tigers practice. "But I’m working hard to get my knee 100 percent and come back next year."

Despite being only a junior, the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder has already been offered a scholarship by the Ohio State Buckeyes. Arden gave his verbal commitment before the end of the regular season.

"I’ve always been a Buckeye fan and a Cleveland Browns fan. To get a chance to play for the team you grew up rooting for is a dream come true," said Arden.

Arden was leading the Fighting Tigers in tackles before his injury. His departure along with an injury to fullback and defensive end Michael Henry were key factors in Ironton’s season-ending losses to Belfry (17-14) and Columbus St. Francis DeSales (27-13).

Henry returned for the playoffs and has been a workhorse, pounding away at defenses and terrorizing offenses from his end position.

"It’s hard to just watch. I’d love to be playing. But everyone has stepped up their game and played well. Hopefully, we can do it one more time," Arden said.

Ironton (10-3) will try to win one final game when it faces Sandusky Perkins (14-0) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Division IV state championship game at Massillon.

"Losing Arden was tough, but you just have to make your adjustments and go on. Injuries are part of the game," Ironton coach Bob Lutz said.

"It’s tough for Redgie. He loves to play the game and he’s the kind of player who gives you 100 percent on every play, whether it’s in the game or in practice. And he works just as hard off the field in the weight room and in the classroom."

Arden’s hard work now is in rehabilitation. David Coburn, athletic trainer and physical therapist at Ironton Physical Therapy, said the Ironton two-time All-Ohio linebcker never misses a session.

"He was really down when he first started, but when he saw the progress he was making, his spirits picked up. But he always works hard in therapy," Coburn said.

And for now, Arden will be cheering on his teammates to win the state championship as hard as he can. But then, that’s the only way he knows how to do things.