Injured Santa Rosa player returns home

Santa Rosa football coach Russell Ponce called with some good news on Thursday. Junior lineman Joe Lyle returned home from the hospital after breaking the C1 vertebra in his neck on the opening kickoff of last Friday’s game against Maria Carrillo.

Ponce reported that Lyle, wearing a halo, is able to walk and hopes to improve enough to wrestle and swim this school year.

Lyle told Ponce he wants to help coach next year. He also asked Ponce if there was any chance he would have run with the ball like fellow lineman Chris Smith did last week. Because of injuries, Smith and Jaden Rosselli lined up in the backfield and took direct snaps from the center, acting as dual quarterbacks.

“I think he (Joe) realizes how lucky he is,” Ponce said. “He was in a lot of pain. He was happy to get out of that hospital bed.”

Lyle, a defensive end for the Panthers, was described by Ponce as a “tough, physical kid. He came up as a sophomore for the playoffs last year and he was definitely up for the challenge.”

Ponce also said that Lyle appreciated vists from Maria Carrillo coach Jay Higgins and some of the Puma players.