The Norfolk Catholic football team won its third straight C1 football championship on Tuesday. But the past few weeks have been anything but easy for the Knights. The Knights gained a new perspective on life and the true meaning of team.
Every kid that grows up playing football in Nebraska, dreams of ending the season with a win in Memorial Stadium. Of the more than 3,000 fans that attended the title game between Norfolk Catholic and Boone Central/Newman Grove, there was one watching from high above, unable to take the field, but still cheering his Knights on."
It was an unlikely perspective for Norfolk Catholic senior Isaac Pfeifer. Two weeks ago he was living life to the fullest, suiting up for a quarterfinal playoff game against Fort Calhoun. But in the first quarter the senior linebacker went in for a tackle and suffered a spinal cord injury.
"You wake up in the morning going to a football game and you end the day in the hospital with your son, with a spinal cord injury," said Isaac's father Neil Pfeifer. "You can't prepare yourself for it. There is nothing you can say to describe it. It's just been a cloud."
Following surgery, the team pressed on....Isaac with recovery and the Knights continuing postseason preparation. After visiting Isaac prior to their semifinal game against Pierce, the Knights visited their teammate again before the championship game.
"It was awesome," said Norfolk Catholic senior Riley Knake. "We know he wanted to be here. Last night we had meetings with him. He's still a part of our team. We knew that."
"It was very big for our team," said Norfolk Catholic head coach Jeff Bellar. "They were able to go visit him last night and I think that was very emotional for all of us and we were able to carry some of that spirit onto the field."
From the club level of Memorial Stadium, Isaac and his family watched as the Knights battled the Cardinals in the C1 Championship game.
"It was the best thing that could happen to my son," said Neil Pfeifer. "He was able to be here, be a part of the team. Coach Bellar made him feel that he was important to the team. It's just an incredible day."
The Knights won the championship, 24-13.
"I just told him 'congratulations son'," said Neil Pfeifer.
Isaac was moved from an intensive care unit in Omaha, to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln this past week. His father says he could be there for two or three months.
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