CEDAR RAPIDS – The guy who deserves the award for most valuable on Cedar Rapids Washington’s football team might not be a player at all. And he’s not really a Warrior, he’s an Iowa Hawkeye.
A little clarity here. Ned Amendola is the director of Iowa’s Sports Medicine Center and has been the Hawkeyes’ team doctor for football and other sports since 2001. His surgeries and treatments on three Washington players this season has gotten them onto the field when they weren’t expected to.
“When you go to Dr. Amendola, anything is possible,” said Washington Coach Tony Lombardi, whose Warriors (7-3) play at top-ranked and top-seeded Linn-Mar (10-0) Monday night in a Class 4A playoff second-round game. “That guy is a miracle worker.”
Amendola performed surgery on running back Will Griffin’s badly sprained ankle, similar to a procedure he performed on former Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi a couple of years ago. Griffin went from originally not being able to play at all this season to an important role with Mitch Bredeson in the backfield.
Amendola did some sort of medical “adjustment” on defensive back-wide receiver Ryan Cain’s broken collarbone. Cain went from missing the season to back into the lineup for Wash’s streak-breaking upset of Iowa City High in Week 6.
His biggest “miracle” may have come with Paul Nash. The senior defensive end broke his leg and incurred a high-ankle sprain in the second game of the season against Cedar Rapids Jefferson but returned to play by the end of the regular season and came up with the game-breaking sack and forced fumble in Washington’s 38-35 first-round playoff win over Davenport Assumption.
“I just kind of turned the wrong way and felt my leg snap,” Nash said. “Coach was saying ‘Get up,’ so I walked off the field on my broken leg. I sat down, and Michelle, our trainer was like ‘I think you have a broken leg.’ I was like ‘Yeah, I think so, too, because I heard it pop.’”
Nash was diagnosed with a vertical fracture of his right fibula, as well as a high-ankle sprain. Amendola performed surgery on his leg two days after it was broken, inserting a plate and 10 screws.
“Had surgery, got into a boot and was back in about six weeks,” Nash said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to come back as fast as I did. I just kept rehabbing and working hard.”
The scar on Nash’s leg is long and large, but he said you’d be surprised by the lack of pain he experiences. He has been able to play full bore for about three weeks.
This is a particularly big game for him, considering his father, Mike, was Linn-Mar’s head sophomore coach in the early 1980s. Nash transferred to Washington from the Linn-Mar district when he was a freshman.
“It means a lot because I used to go to school with all those guys,” Nash said. ”This game’s a big deal.”
“I give Ned Amendola all the credit in the world,” Lombardi said. ”He’s magnificent, and he’s been wonderful to our athletes. When we need something, you don’t have to go wait in line and see him maybe next Wednesday, or something like that. It’s just boom, and it’s done.”