LAKEWOOD — There are very few instances where one can imagine the final score of a Columbine and Bear Creek football game mattering so little.
When a player, student, citizen and young gentleman such as Rebels quarterback Danny Spond is seen with knees buckling on the sideline, and has to leave Jefferson County Stadium in an ambulance after having his jersey and shoulder pads cut off of him, what happened between the lines is a distant footnote.
Spond, a senior and University of Colorado pledge, left the Oct. 15 game early in the fourth quarter with what Columbine administrators later called a severe concussion. In hindsight, head coach Andy Lowry and others said they realized Spond was probably injured earlier in the 34-7 Class 5A loss, although Spond never admitted it and said most the right things when questioned.
According to athletic director Ed Woytek, Spond was doing much better the next day in the hospital, although he could remember very little past the team dinner nearly three hours before kickoff.
Spond plays the game hard on both sides of the ball. Standing nearly 6-feet-4 and weighing 225 pounds, he hits and gets hit with force. But it became increasingly clear as the game wore on that something wasn’t right with the fourth-ranked Rebels’ star player.
“He wasn’t himself all (game), no,” Lowry said Oct. 15 walking off the field as Spond’s teammates headed straight to the locker room and assistant coaches and friends coordinated trips to the hospital.
Lowry would later say that the Rebels would take no chances bringing Spond back to the team. Considering the kind of perspective a scare such as this brings, it might very well have been Spond’s last game for Columbine.
Against the Bears, the breaking point for Spond came on a running play around the left side. Spond was trying to get as many yards as he could and took a shot that sent him sliding out of bounds on his stomach.
He got up, took a few steps, was steadied by some bystanders and was eventually guided back to the bench.
“He got drilled right in the head,” Lowry said of the play.
But the tension steadily grew along with the crowd of concerned faces that collected around the bench. Spond’s head didn’t stay in one place, and eventually he was down on the track with his feet raised as sirens wailed in the distance.
Although the game continued, no one on the Columbine side seemed to notice. All eyes were on the scene a few yards in front of them, which seemed to only get worse.
Spond never popped up and waved to the crowd. No one got to see him smile and shake it off. He was instead wheeled into the back of the ambulance and taken away without any sign that he could acknowledge the voices shouting his name and words of encouragement.
There were tears in the eyes of many after the game ended and the rival teams shook hands. The disquieting events seemed to hang over the east side of the stadium where the Columbine faithful talked in hushed voices.
There are very few instances where one can imagine the final score of a Columbine and Bear Creek football game mattering so little, but this was certainly one of them.