Sep 1, 2013 12:54 AM by Scott Breen - MTN Sports (Billings)
WORDEN - Less than one year after a gruesome football injury left Huntley Project's Koni Dole with an amputated lower right leg, Dole played both sides of the ball in his return to the high school field Friday night and ran for two touchdowns.
It was an emotional night for Dole and his teammates who beat Joliet 45-0. Players and coaches embraced in hugs both before and after the game.
"It all came back because, you know, what I though was my last play was on this field," Dole said after his return. "And just to overcome all this, and to be back out on the field with my teammates, is probably the best feeling I've ever had."
"You know, that first time you step on the field after all that I've been through, I couldn't feel my body," Dole said. "It was just like... I don't know, just an indescribable feeling."
Starting at running back, Dole turned a hand off on the games first play into a 10 yard gain for a first down. He sidestepped the first tackler before carrying three defenders five more yards to reach the marker.
Dole later scored Huntley Project's first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run. He answered with another one-yard score late in the opening half.
Dole's leg snapped below the knee last October in Huntley Project's regular season finale against Shepherd. After enduring a number of emergency surgeries, his lower leg became infected beyond repair. Doctors then informed Dole he had the choice of keeping his lower leg attached or amputating, which could improve his chances of continuing an athletic career.
Dole chose amputation and maintained at the time his dream was still to play football for Montana State. He began wrestling for Huntley Project less than three months after surgery and also ran track for the Red Devils last spring.
After playing nearly every down of the first half Friday on both offense and defense, Dole said the throbbing in his leg was more than noticeable.
"You know, it's just that beating and having people on top of me... not only my weight is on the leg but I'm taking other people's weight while I'm running the ball," he said. "Or playing defense and leaning up against someone, it just gets beat up throughout the game."
Dole also darted in for an solo sack (11-yard loss) while starting at defensive end Friday.
The Montana High School Association didn't give Dole final approval for to play in Huntley Project's season opener until Tuesday, just three days before kickoff. The MHSA spent most of the summer reviewing safety legalities before announcing its decision.
"These days get long with my leg hurting and everything, so it was a giant relief to hear that and get that out of the way because we've been worrying about it for a couple weeks now," said Dole after practicing full speed with the Red Devils on Tuesday. "After all this hard work, I was just like, really?"
Dole's dream prior to the injury was to play football for No. 2-ranked Montana State of the FCS. The Bobcats offered Dole a preferred walk-on football scholarship less than a month ago.