Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — There were only 36 seconds left in last season’s Kenmore West-East rivalry game, and the Blue Devils only needed a conversion on fourth down to clinch the victory.
They gave the ball to their workhorse. That’s when the lights went out on Alex Price.
”I needed to run the clock out. I got the first down but as I was going down all I feel is someone pull on my face mask — there was just a little pop in my neck. I fell and collapsed,” Price said. “I was blacked out for about 30 seconds. That’s all I remember from there.”
Price laid motionless for 20 minutes before being carted off the field, spoiling a hard-fought 13-10 win over the Bulldogs for the junior running back, who was closing in on 1,000 yards on the season. He found out that night he had fractured the C-5 vertebra in his neck; an injury that threatened his athletic future.
He was extra special that day too, slashing and exploding for 160 yards and both Ken-West touchdowns against the Bulldogs.
Blue Devils coach Rich Harris can’t say enough about Price. He called the senior one of the best backs in Western New York.
”He is a great running back. I am a little biased, but I think he’s the best in the AA division,” Harris said. “But he doesn’t put up those type of numbers yet. We’ve had to go to an attack where we’ve had to throw the ball a lot too. We can’t really showcase him as a runner yet, but he has over 100 yards rushing and close to 100 receiving in each (of the team’s first two games this season). He’s got a ton of yards in the return game too.”
After three months of rigorous rehabilitation to recover from the injury, Price was back in time for basketball season. He helped lead the Blue Devils to a spot in the Final Four at Buffalo State before falling to local powerhouse Niagara Falls in the semifinals.
Price loves basketball, but football is his No. 1 passion. He said it’s like breathing: he can’t live without the game.
”Football is my life. I live and die football,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old and nothing can ever be bigger than football besides family. It’s my dream. I hopefully one day can go to college and play football, and then be in the league one day.”
That passion is what drove Price in his preparation for this season. The first snap of the season was emotional for him because there was a time when some thought he’d never play the game again.
Price always knew he had to make it back; he had to cross the goal line once again. He chases that feeling. He already has four touchdowns through his the team’s first two games.
”When I get the ball that’s all I want to do — I just want to score to give my team the advantage,” Price said. “I have to give it up to my teammates, though, especially my linemen. They block great and do a heck of a job.”
Harris continues to be impressed with the way Price contributes in all three phases of the game. He always finds a way to fight for a few extra yards in the return game, plays well on the defensive side of the ball and finishes his runs on offense.
But what really makes Price invaluable is the way he brings along teammates, Harris said. He’s a captain for a reason.
”He always leads though example and he’s just a great leader on and off the field,” Harris said. “He’s a guy that came up to me right before the first scrimmage and said, ‘This is our year coach.’ He’s one of those guys plays every down and that’s contagious. He’s a winner and he really cares about his teammates and the program.”
Price said the team wanted to come out and play better early this season, but he knows there is still time to head in the right direction. He puts the brunt of the responsibility on his own shoulders; as a leader and a running back.
It’s a load he can handle, no matter what obstacle stands in front or behind him.
Find @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.Find @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.