The wound, located below Aaron Loucks' right knee, was hidden by a layer of black tape Wednesday afternoon as the York Suburban linebacker ran through another practice.
Loucks suffered the gash two weeks ago, while making a tackle in the second quarter of the Trojans' opening-night win at Susquehannock. It would eventually require six stitches to close, and force Loucks to miss Suburban's Week 2 game against Eastern York.
That night, however, Loucks kept playing. Trainers sheathed his knee in tape.
"We just wrapped it and wrapped it," Loucks recalled.
And the junior proceeded to collect 12 tackles, two sacks and a caused fumble during a narrow win.
Loucks has been one of the central members of a Suburban linebacker corps that is equal measures inexperienced, ever-improving and, yes, tough. The Trojans' top three linebackers -- Loucks, Steven Salcedo and Aaron Ivey -- are all juniors. So are several members of York Suburban's defensive line.
So while the allure of this Trojans team rests with its fleet of speedy, skill position players on offense, it might be the continued development of the defense -- and specifically, that still-growing front seven -- that will determine whether Suburban (3-0) can contend in a crowded YAIAA Division III.
That group will be challenged by a pair of grind-it-out offenses during the next two weeks. The Trojans host Delone Catholic (1-2) on Friday, then head to Bermudian Springs (3-0) next week.
"It's going to be a big test," Suburban coach Brian Freed said. "Delone may be 1-2, but they're still well-coached. They run the wing-T, and they run it well."
Freed said he's seen improvement from his core of young starters. He knows that, given time, those linebackers could develop into one of his defense's strong points. Loucks, Salcedo and Ivey are already the team's three top tacklers. Loucks also leads Suburban with three sacks, while Salcedo has 2.5.
"At the beginning of
"We're bonding, finding everybody's weaknesses, improving each other," Loucks added.
The Trojans defense had its best performance of the season last week during a 33-6 victory over York County Tech. The Spartans managed 190 total yards and did not score an offensive touchdown.
Of course, the hardest games of Suburban's season are still ahead. Delone should provide a sterner test on Friday.
"They're going to come out strong and try to punch us in the mouth," Salcedo said. "Especially with the run game."
Bobcats big win: Last year, when Northeastern dropped a close, early-season game at home to Shippensburg, the defeat served as a spring board. Bobcats players frequently referenced it as a turning point of their season, which ended with a Division II tri-championship and Northeastern's first District 3 playoff appearance.
So you can imagine the confidence the Bobcats might glean from last Friday, when they stormed the Greyhounds' home field and left with a 32-27 victory.
"It was a lot of validity for our players," Northeastern coach Brendan Brown said Wednesday. "We knew that if we could go up into their house with Mid-Penn officials and not even win, but play with them, we'd be capable of doing something special this season."
The Bobcats (3-0) are well-positioned now, with games against William Penn and Spring Grove on tap before the start of division play.
Ambrose out Friday: Fans at last Friday's Dover-Red Land matchup endured a scary moment in the fourth quarter, when Eagles running back Logan Ambrose was taken by ambulance to an area hospital with an apparent head or neck injury.
There is good news, however. While Dover coach Bill Miller declined to go into specifics on Ambrose's injury Wednesday, he did say that the junior's return to the lineup this season is "probable."
Ambrose will not play this week when the Eagles host Dallastown. He leads Dover in rushing with 248 yards and seven touchdowns.
John Clayton is a prep sports reporter for the Daily Record/Sunday News. Reach him at 771-2045 or firstname.lastname@example.org.