When Derek Reeder was hauled off the field on a stretcher during a Dublin football game against Grandview on Oct. 12, it was clear he had broken his leg, and that his football career for the Lions was over.

As if allowing that fact to settle in hasn't been hard enough for Reeder, a 17-year old senior at Dublin, he also had to settle in for a prolonged stay at Harris Methodist Erath County hospital.

A titanium rod has been inserted just below his knee, and runs down to just above his ankle. And that was the easy part.

What concerns doctors now is an infection in the wound. Reeder cannot be cleared to go home until the infection is clear, according to Dublin Head Football Coach Dwayne Ross, who has kept close tabs on the situation and visited Reeder in the hospital as recently as Thursday.

“They've been going in and cleaning it everyday,” Ross said. “From what I've gathered, it's just not clear yet.”

Ross said teammates and classmates of the Dublin teen miss him and can't wait for him to come home.

“You hate to say, ‘lets win for Derek,' but the kids have him in the back of their minds all the time. Some of them have been visiting him and text messaging him to keep in touch,” Ross said.

Ross said the Lions miss Reeder dearly on the field, where he was a two-way starter at wide receiver and defensive back.

“It's given some other kids a chance to step up, but we would love to have his speed out there,” said Ross. “We can't replace his experience. He's a three-year starter.”

Off the field, Ross says Reeder is a good student who never has any problems academically.

“He's going to have his work cut out for him to catch up after being out so long,” Ross said. “But I'm confident he'll handle it just fine.”

A release date has not been set in stone for Reeder, but could come any day as the infection continues to clear.

“They keep telling him maybe Monday, then maybe Wednesday,” Ross said. “I wish he could just come home.”

Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at brad.keith@empiretribune.com.