LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In their 36-7 win over Bentonville in the 7A final, the Bryant Hornets made history by becoming the first Arkansas team in the playoff era to earn five consecutive state championships. For game MVP quarterback Gideon Motes, his road to War Memorial came down to a road to recovery.
Presumed to be the starter in the preseason, the Razorbacks baseball commit suffered a potentially season-ending shoulder injury in Bryant’s charity game against Pulaski Academy. On a hit that drove his throwing shoulder into the turf, Motes suffered a Grade 3 AC sprain.
“I really couldn’t move my shoulder at all,” the junior said remembering the collision in late August. “When we took the pads off I was like ‘oh my, I got big bump on my shoulder.’ I was scared.”
Motes would spend the following weeks rehabbing at the UAMS Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine clinic in Little Rock while training at the Hornets’ football facility. His goal ended up being to beat the odds.
“He tore two of the main ligaments in his AC joint,” Motes’ physical therapist Steven Gebhardt said. “When I first saw the injury I was like that’s probably going to be a 12-week rehab process.”
“I can’t be out 12 weeks,” Motes said. “I did PT two or three times a day every day… I just wanted to play football and get back as fast as I could.”
Thanks to dedication in and out of the clinic, the dual-sport athlete would blow away some expected recovery times by being on the field six weeks after the injury. In Motes’ absence sophomore Jordan Walker had admirably assumed the role as signal caller. Rotating in as a change of pace, Motes would eventually have his time to shine when entering the state final.
“I thought, ‘what do you have to lose,'” Motes said. “You’re the backup right now so why not go out there and try to have some fun with it.”
Motes found a groove and head coach Buck James rode the hot hand. The Arkansas pitcher pledge totaled 4 touchdowns and 197 yards through the air, adding 67 yards on the ground. He’d walk away from an injury-riddled season as a state champion and finals MVP.
“I’ll probably remember it for a long time just because of the circumstances,” Motes said.
“When I saw those highlights I was really proud of Gideon,” Gebhardt said. “For most people I think this injury would have kept them out the rest of the season. It’s just a testament to his work ethic and determination.”