It didn't start eating at Stanvon Taylor immediately.
When the Tulsa East Central star went down with a season-ending broken ankle in the first game of his junior season, he tried to stay positive.
“It was OK for awhile because I felt like the team was still doing pretty good without me,” Taylor said. “Then when the tougher games and the closer games came, it started hurting a lot more.
“I could've made the difference.”
Taylor proved he was a difference-maker this season, earning Oklahoman All-State Defensive Player of the Year honors for his performance.
Taylor, who has committed to Oklahoma, had 34 tackles and four interceptions on defense despite most teams avoiding throwing his way.
He was also a huge weapon on offense and special teams.
He caught 61 passes for 1,035 yards and 15 touchdowns, rushed for a pair of touchdowns, threw a pair of touchdown passes and returned a block kick for a touchdown.
“There's really not enough superlatives to say about him,” first-year Cardinals coach Bobby Klinck said. “He's a great athlete, a great person, a quiet leader. He never asked to be treated differently or that type of thing like sometimes great players ask for. He was just a pleasure to coach.”
The kind of impact Taylor would have for the Cardinals was apparent from the start of the season.
In a 53-31 win over Del City, Taylor had 183 yards and two touchdowns receiving, threw for another and had four punts that included a 65-yarder.
He also made several big plays on defense.
“It was great to have the kind of senior year I did,” Taylor said. “I feel like I made a big jump after not playing at all my junior year and then coming out my senior year and putting on a show like I did, putting up stats and helping my team win.”
What East Central linebacker Kimmie Carson loves most about Taylor on the field is his drive, even when things don't go well.
For all the flashy touchdowns, interceptions and breakups Taylor had this season, Carson's favorite play from his teammate started out as a mistake.
“It was one where he fumbled the ball but picked it back up and almost scored,” Carson said. “He made a mistake, then he made up for it. That meant a lot to our team.”
Klinck said Taylor and fellow All-Stater Carson were big pieces not only for this season's team but also for setting the tone for the program going forward.
“They're instrumental,” Klinck said. “As soon as they bought in, I knew everybody else would fall right into place.
“Having two leaders like that, it really helped me, especially in my first year, to get this team together.”