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ACCS’ Yates overcame injury

Adam County Christian School’s Kent Yates participates in tennis practice Wednesday afternoon at Duncan Park in Natchez. Yates overcame an injury as the Rebels’ quarterback last fall to finish his senior season. He has a 3.88 GPA and scored a 26 on the ACT. (Eric J. Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The play wasn’t going to work, so Adams County Christian quarterback Kent Yates had to improvise.

And ACCS fans later wished it wasn’t necessary.

It was the Rebels’ opening game of the 2010 season against CENLA Christian Academy, and the senior quarterback was given the play call: a pass play, with no intention to scramble, Yates said.

“They sat in zone, and I didn’t have a chance to throw,” Yates said. “I passed two people, and then (a CENLA player) behind me hit me in the right leg. I stumbled and tried to catch myself, and landed on my left arm.”

Yates found out later that evening that his left arm was broken, beginning a long rehab process as he tried to play again while he still had a senior season.

“Both bones were broken,” Yates said. “There wasn’t any pain. The only thing that shook me up was knowing that I couldn’t really play football with that kind of an injury.”

The doctor told Yates that surgery wouldn’t be necessary, but Yates opted to have metal plates inserted into his arm to help the recovery process.

“I told him, ‘Anything that will get me back quickly,’” Yates said.

For the longest time, Yates was unable to practice, and could only play toss after practice was over with his teammates.

“I started throwing as soon as I could work through the pain,” Yates said. “I came back throwing better, because that’s all I really did.”

On the day of senior day, when ACCS had its final home game of the season versus Silliman Institute Oct. 15, Yates received some good news from his doctor — he was cleared to play. That evening, at the end of regulation, Yates came in and took a knee twice as the Rebels won 41-32.

“It was the greatest feeling in the world,” Yates said. “It was special.”

Yates went on to play in the final three games of the season, including the first round of the playoffs against Brookhaven Academy.

Yates’ lost time didn’t affect his performance in the classroom. He currently has a 3.88 GPA and scored a 26 on the ACT. The Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame recently awarded him scholarship money for his academic and extracurricular achievements.

“It’s a very prestigious award,” Yates said. “It was great to be nominated. I’m very thankful for the people that helped me get there — (head) coach (Paul) Hayles, coach (Hunter) McKeivier, the school board and my parents. All of them played a huge part.”

Yates said finding time to study in between sports is all about making time.

“You handle athletics early in the day, then you work out, so there’s only five to six hours left before sleep,” Yates said. “You have to handle your homework and studying and make good priorities.”

And his mom and dad have helped him a lot with that, Yates said.

“My mom stresses it more than anyone. She finished top of her class in high school and in the top 10 percent in college,” Yates said.

Yates also played soccer and ran track for ACCS. He is currently playing tennis for the Rebels.

“Last year was my first year playing tennis, and it’s pretty fun,” he said. “I got all the way to the South State championship game last year, which is pretty crazy, since it was my first year playing.”

And Yates said he hopes to keep playing tennis for the foreseeable future.

“I’m in good enough shape to play for the next several years,” he said. “It’s fun and competitive, and I plan to play for at least the remainder of my youth.”

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