FARMINGTON — Dridyn Lewis got his season started Saturday, just as Farmington High School's came to an end.
Lewis made the long trip back from a broken ankle to join the Farmers for their IHSA Class 3A second-round playoff duel with Paxton-Buckley-Loda.
It was the end of the road for Farmington, though, which was KO'd 27-7 by PBL.
Lewis was an uplifting subplot for the 8-3 Farmers.
"I ran up the middle in a scrimmage the week before the season started and got hit from the side," the junior said. "I came down at an odd angle and broke my left ankle.
"I thought I was going to miss the entire season. But I made it back today.
"The whole thing has been a blur for me. You want to be out there. Sitting all season, watching our guys play, it just killed me inside.
"So when I was (medically) cleared to play in this game, I just wanted to get out there, play hard, help in any way I could."
He carried for four yards on the Farmers' first play of the game. By halftime, he had five carries for 23 yards and a catch for nine more.
He spent most of the second half on defense, as the Farmers were careful bringing back a player they expected to be at the heart of their team this year, and hope he will be so next season.
"He wasn't the same kid, having to sit out all season with that injury," Farmington head coach Toby Vallas said. "His friends said it took a toll on him. We wanted to get him out there, be careful with him. He has such a bright future for us."
Farmington's present, however, was a tougher issue against PBL. Drake Schrodt gave the visitors a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard run with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
Paxton's lines were bigger and better on both sides of the ball, and it controlled the point of attack and limited what Farmington could do.
The Farmers stepped up to stop a fourth-and-goal run at their 4 with 10:14 left in the second quarter. But the game turned against them quickly, when a screen pass intended for Dalton Powell fell to the turf. One official ruled incomplete. Another ruled backward pass, fumble, and recovery by Paxton.
The latter became the call, and PBL took over on the Farmington 10, tossed a TD pass, and led 14-0 with 9:02 left in the half.
"That play was a major moment in the game," Vallas said. "But I hate when people make excuses for losing. That play isn't why we lost. They just beat us."
PBL is 9-2 and will face No. 1 seed Princeton (10-1) next week. Its senior running back/linebacker, Hunter Anderson, dominated in the second half, racing 37 yards for a touchdown and 21-0 lead on with 10:06 left in the third quarter.
Then he picked up a blocked punt at the Farmington 18 and ran it in for a touchdown and 27-7 lead with 9:11 left in the fourth quarter, and later added an interception.
"That kid was a difference-maker in the game," Vallas said. "To me, he's an All-State caliber player.
"They came out and punched us in the mouth from the start of the game. We responded, but not right away.
"The truth is, that's how every high school football playoff game is won. One team punches the other in the mouth and that's who wins."
Dave Eminian covers the Rivermen and Chiefs for the Journal Star, and writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.