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December 29, 2012

Klepal calls it quits, Henry sets the mark

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As we come to a close in the year, it's time to take a look back at the landscape of high school football and see the '12 biggest stories' that shaped our season. Here are stories 6 and 5

No. 6 - Getting your bell run doesn't happen any more

The Florida High School Athletic Association instituted a new rule concerning concussions in 2012. That new rule was long overdue.

"Players have been 'getting their bell rung' for a long time," said legendary coach Joe Kinnan of Manatee High School. "We are paying more attention to it because the game has gotten faster, the players have gotten stronger and the technology has gotten better."

One such player is five-star OL Richy Klepal. Klepal played offensive line for Plant and was one of the highest rated offensive linemen in the state. He, however, had a history of concussions.

September 7 - he ended his career as a football player. He never played in Plant's 30-3 loss to eventual national champion River Ridge (La.) John Curtis.

Klepal had suffered a concussion in practice that week. Two weeks later he consulted with a neurologist and decided it was time to hang up the helmet.

Klepal suffered a hemorrhage on the brain and was told that one more violent hit to the head - and he could instantly die. It was Klepal's fifth concussion.

Pardon the pun, but this decision was a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, not enough players are using common sense. They are so intent on getting back out there that they forsake all the warning signs.

Football is, by its nature, a violent game. But players need to take the time to listen to their bodies when something of this nature happens.

It should be noted that Florida State - which had offered Klepal in the spring of 2012 - agreed to honor his scholarship.

No. 5 - Rewriting the record book

This won't be the last time we mention Derrick Henry but his 502 yard performance against Andrew Jackson in September is worth mentioning separately.

Henry scored six times and had 192 yards by the end of the first quarter. It wasn't a blow out - as Jackson kept counter-punching - which led to Henry getting more and more chances.

The Alabama commit (he's enrolling in January) shattered the North Florida area record of 429 yards set by Sandalwood's Maurice Wells - set in 2003.

Henry carried the ball 48 times in the game, which was back and forth. Yulee won 45-28

The record-breaking performance almost didn't happen. Henry needed was at 478 when the last Yulee drive started and Jackson was playing 'ball control' offense. Henry got all 24 yards he needed and capped the drive with the game-clinching touchdown.

Henry barely broke the record, set by Tampa Bay Tech RB Shawn Smith - who ran for 501 yards in 1985.

Not only did Henry break Shawn Smith's single-game mark, he passed legendary RB Emmitt Smith's 8,804 career yards.

Henry would go on to break a couple of more records - so stay tuned.


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