Prep Football Player of the Year: Suhonen's perseverance pays off for Cromwell
Much of Jordan Suhonen's prep football career paralleled a Greek tragedy, with injuries seemingly cutting down the promising athlete at every turn. After the Cromwell quarterback brought his team to the Nine-Man state tournament as a junior, he b...
Much of Jordan Suhonen's prep football career paralleled a Greek tragedy, with injuries seemingly cutting down the promising athlete at every turn.
After the Cromwell quarterback brought his team to the Nine-Man state tournament as a junior, he broke a leg. After finally regaining strength and mobility in the leg early during his senior season, he severely sprained an ankle that hampered him for several games.
"I couldn't think in school; I didn't want to do anything," Suhonen said. "I was really down on myself. Then everybody started getting more excited and things started clicking, and that helped me focus better. All of a sudden, everything came together."
Suhonen persevered and recovered in time to lead the Cardinals to their fourth state title, setting several Prep Bowl records in the process and being named 2010 News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year.
Suhonen rushed for 1,592 yards, the fourth-most in school history, including 1,340 during Cromwell's
season-ending seven-game win streak that culminated with him gaining a record 374 yards and scoring five touchdowns in a 49-42 Prep Bowl win over Lanesboro. He scored 19 of his 25 TDs during the streak.
"It's amazing the run he had," coach Jeff Gronner said. "It's a run that's never been accomplished here."
The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder started as a sophomore, and the next season had rushed for nearly 1,000 yards when he snapped two bones in his right leg shortly before halftime against Ada-Borup in the state quarterfinals at Public Schools Stadium.
"I knew instantly," he said. "It was the loudest noise I've ever heard, it just shot through my body. I was thinking that my season was over -- I wasn't even thinking about the pain. I knew I was done and that's what hurt the most."
After sitting out the basketball and track and field seasons, Suhonen trained five days a week to strengthen the leg. Still, he was only about 60 to 70 percent when the 2010 football season started.
After rushing for 110 yards in the first half against Hill City, Suhonen turned his left ankle on the first play of the second half. Eventually, Cromwell fell to 2-4.
"It was a combination of his sprain getting healthy and getting more strength back in his broken leg," Gronner said of Suhonen's resurgence. "That all came together about game seven. It was a confidence issue, too. After his sprained ankle, he didn't have the confidence to run the ball."
That wasn't the problem during the playoffs, during which the Cardinals upset McGregor, pummeled Mountain Iron-Buhl behind Suhonen's five-TD effort and rallied for three scores in the fourth quarter to defeat Underwood in the state semifinals.
But that paled compared to Suhonen's performance in the Prep Bowl.
"I knew he was explosive ... but I didn't know he'd be as explosive as he was," Lanesboro coach James Semmen said.
Suhonen never was more explosive than when he ripped off an 86-yard scoring run on third-and-long, essentially sealing the state title victory.
"Even after the play started, I was thinking 'Good, we got him' because I could see we had a wall of white (jerseys) going after him," Semmen said. "But we took a bad angle, and if you took a bad angle on this guy he was gone."
Suhonen, who lives north of Wright, sports a 3.86 grade-point average and hopes to play at a Division II university. Gronner says that's something Suhonen deserves, especially after everything he went through.
"He's had a rough 11 months," Gronner said. "He missed all of basketball season, missed all of track season. He worked his tail off all offseason, lifting weights and doing as much on his legs as he could. He put the time in to get healthy and, hopefully, have a successful season. And it didn't start out that way at all.
"He was depressed about it and I was depressed. We were frustrated. I'm very happy things turned out for him."