It seemed so innocent at the time. Yorktown coach Bruce Hanson watched from the sidelines as Max Milien, his star running back, jumped to make a catch during a simple 7-on-7 passing league game in late July at Wakefield High.
Milien grimaced when he landed. But neither the player nor the coach figured anything serious had happened. It was only after the pain lingered and Milien finally went to the doctor that they learned it was actually a partially torn ACL.
It is an injury that will definitely keep Milien out for the Patriots' season opener against Wilson and perhaps far longer. That leaves a gaping hole at running back, where the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Milien, who has verbally committed to the University of Virginia, was supposed to help Yorktown contend for a National District title. And while the Patriots still could do so, it will be a much harder climb if Milien doesn't return.
"We've had a pretty strong program here for a long time and we do have some players to turn to," Hanson said. "But Division-I athletes don't grow on trees. We'll have to see how we can adjust and hopefully we'll get Max back. But nothing is guaranteed."
Milien, a big back with good hands and breakaway speed, totaled 1,067 rushing yards on 140 carries last season and scored 12 touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for 414 yards and another nine touchdowns.
Milien's injury came on the heels of an ACL tear for linebacker Rody Hafitz, a projected starter each of the past two seasons, who tore his ACL for the second time last spring. Hafitz originally hurt his knee during a scrimmage last August against Chantilly.