Chip Scoggins
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Thank you for reading Football Across Minnesota (FAM), my weekly column that tours football topics in our state from preps to pros. You can find all the previous FAM columns right here. — Chip

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Ethan Glynn had a conversation with his mom the other day that reinforced so many things that she already knew about her teenage son but still left her in wonderment.

The Bloomington Jefferson freshman who was left paralyzed after a football injury this season is continuing his rehabilitation at a facility near Denver that specializes in spinal cord injuries.

The days are long, the rehab work exhausting, and it's too early to know the long-term prognosis for regaining muscle function. And yet Ethan told his mom that he wakes up every morning determined to view life as "glass half full."

"I would rather be positive than negative and be down," Ethan said during a phone conversation Tuesday evening after his therapy sessions.

Ethan's unconquerable spirit and fierce determination since his Sept. 2 injury have amazed his parents, Cassidy Durkin and Corey Glynn, and older brother Parker Durkin, a senior wide receiver at Edina and captain of the Hornets football team.

"Ethan told me that he can't look at what could have been," said Cassidy, who is with her son in Colorado. "He needs to look at what he can do going forward."

Ethan suffered a complete spinal cord injury at C4-5 while making a tackle in a game. The injury left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.

His father was on the sideline taking photos. He knew something was wrong when his son didn't get up.

"Up until that moment, [as parents] we could fix everything," Corey said. "At that moment, you knew you can't fix this."

Ethan had three surgeries before leaving Minnesota. He said he had a few "why me" moments the first couple of days in the hospital but quickly shifted his focus to rehab and staying positive. His outlook and courage give his family strength.

"I have no room to say, woe-is-me or woe-is-Ethan," Corey said. "If he's not doing it, I can't do it."

Ethan always showed extreme focus and drive as a standout in three sports. He has put that same competitor's determination into his recovery. When his medical team gives him benchmarks in rehab, Ethan asks to do more.

"I want to try to live as normal of a life as I can," he said.

Ethan Glynn is a freshman at Bloomington Jefferson High.
Ethan Glynn is a freshman at Bloomington Jefferson High.

Family photo, Star Tribune

His first words after being removed from a ventilator after surgery were "Roll Tide." His passion for Alabama football stems from the 2013 Iron Bowl, the first college football game that 6-year-old Ethan had ever watched.

The family had just finished their basement and installed a projection screen. Ethan and his dad had no allegiances to either Alabama or Auburn, so they picked sides. Ethan took Bama, his dad rooted for Auburn.

That Iron Bowl will forever be known as the "Kick Six" game. With the score tied, Alabama attempted a 57-yard field goal with one second left. The kick fell short, and Auburn's Chris Davis returned it for a touchdown in one of the wildest finishes in college football history.

"When they returned that kick," Corey said, "[Ethan] freaked out."

But he stuck by the Tide ever since. They became his team.

When news reached Alabama about Ethan's "Roll Tide" greeting to his parents, the Tide faithful responded with a warm embrace after learning about his story.

The Bama football team sent him a 10-minute video that begins with Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne saying hello and offering encouraging words. Then Byrne walks into the locker room and gives every player an opportunity to share a personal message to Ethan.

"It was a really, really cool video," Ethan said.

Residents of Alabama flooded the family's mailbox with care packages and letters. Support has come from far and wide.

A GoFundMe has raised more than $215,000. The Wild's Jordan Greenway sent Ethan one of his sticks. P.J. Fleck and every Gophers football player sent him handwritten notes. The sports organizations in town reached out. The Denver Broncos sent a care package.

The outpouring of kindness has overwhelmed the family.

"I'm just so thankful," Ethan said. "There are so many people that don't even know me."

The support has helped provide strength as Ethan continues his long journey. He is currently at the Craig Hospital near Denver, which has a renowned spinal cord rehabilitation center.

Ethan already has been fitted for a wheelchair that he controls through a straw-like device. He has become so proficient at operating it that he earned a campus pass, which allows him to drive his wheelchair around the facility without being accompanied.

"He never ceases to amaze us with his positivity and drive," Cassidy said.

His daily schedule is filled with therapy and activities from 8 a.m. until 5 or 6 p.m. There is a program for teens only — no parents either — so he's able to socialize with kids his age.

The facility provides a teacher who coordinates with each patient's school, so Ethan resumed his classwork this week. He's also learning to play Madden on Xbox with a special device.

The timeline for his stay there will get updated by the medical team in a few weeks. His parents plan to rotate, one with Ethan and the other home in Minnesota supporting Parker, hoping to make his senior year as normal as possible.

Ethan's determination gives them hope and lifts their spirits.

"I want to see him continue to succeed and do all the great things that he's going to do," Cassidy said. "They might be different, but he's still going to do great things."

He is teaching all of us a lesson in the power of courage and positivity. Keep looking at life as a glass half full, Ethan.

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Justin Jefferson is on a record-breaking path.
Justin Jefferson is on a record-breaking path.

Anthony Soufflé, Star Tribune, Star Tribune


Game balls

Justin Jefferson: Another record day for the Vikings receiver with career-high 12 catches for 154 yards, breaking Randy Moss' team record for catches through the first three seasons (236). He also completed a 23-yard pass.

St. Thomas defense + coordinator Wallie Kuchinski: The Tommies held a Davidson offense that entered Saturday's game averaging 45 points and an FCS-leading 389 yards rushing well below both averages (16 points and 288 rushing yards) in an upset of the defending Pioneer League champion.

Kirk Cousins: Started the game with 17 consecutive completions (team record) and then bounced back from an interception to lead a 17-play game-winning scoring drive.

Davontae White-Sledge: Minneapolis Henry quarterback rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns to help his team remain undefeated with a win over Minneapolis South.

Kyle Walljasper: Minnesota-Duluth quarterback rushed for career-high 123 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries in a win over Mary.

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He said what?!

"That was one of the coolest plays I've ever seen. That was awesome. I was right there on the sidelines when he ripped that. That's a grown man play." — Vikings defense tackle Harrison Phillips on Cameron Dantzler's steal-the-ball strip of Bears receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette for a takeaway that sealed a win.

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Numbers to know

6: Total points allowed in the first half of six games combined by undefeated St. Thomas Academy. The Cadets allowed their first points before halftime this season Friday against Mahtomedi.

6: Games in which Justin Jefferson has reached 150 receiving yards, tying Randy Moss and Lance Alworth for most games hitting that mark in a player's first three NFL seasons since at least 1950.

15: Consecutive running plays called by Shakopee High on a fourth-quarter drive that took more than nine minutes off the clock in a win over Eden Prairie.

33: Regular-season wins in a row at home for St. Thomas.

80: Percentage of third downs converted by Vikings against the Bears (12 of 15)

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15-yard penalty

We praised the Vikings special teams in this column last week. This week? Not so much. A 15-yard shanked punt by Ryan Wright and a holding penalty by D.J. Wonnum gave the Bears prime field position on a touchdown drive just before halftime. Kicker Greg Joseph missed a 53-yard FG attempt and had a 51-yard FG attempt blocked. Those miscues contributed to the game being closer than it should have been after a fast start to the game.

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Gophers star running back Mohamed Ibrahim will be back in action Saturday.
Gophers star running back Mohamed Ibrahim will be back in action Saturday.

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune, Star Tribune


Grab your popcorn

Gophers at Illinois, Saturday, 11 a.m. This suddenly becomes the most important game of the season for the Gophers, coming off their loss to Purdue before the bye with a game at Penn State looming next week. Star tailback Mohamed Ibrahim's expected return from injury will give the Gophers a boost.

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An important 48 hours for …

Kirk Ciarrocca. The Gophers offensive coordinator is preparing and installing a game plan for an Illinois defense that ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (8.0 points per game) and No. 2 in total defense (228 yards) and also No. 8 in both sacks and takeaways. Minnesota's offensive line had a rough performance in a loss to Purdue, and the Illini will present another difficult matchup in the trenches.

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This final word is dedicated to Ethan Glynn and the courage he displays every day.

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Thank you for reading Football Across Minnesota. I'll publish this each Tuesday morning in time for your lunch-hour reading. I appreciate feedback so please reach out anytime.

Thanks again,

Chip (@chipscoggins on Twitter)