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Douglas Freeman High School

Douglas Freeman senior Andrew Ryan is one of the area's best kickers. He recorded touchbacks on 10 of 11 kickoffs to start the season and converted a 44-yard field goal.

And he does more than kick. He played wide receiver and cornerback for Freeman (6-0).

But he tore his ACL in practice after the second game of the season, forcing him to miss the rest of his senior year and forcing coach Mike Henderson to improvise his lineup. Henderson has used five players to fill all of Ryan's roles.

"It's been a big change," Henderson said. "We felt like we had one of the best weapons in the area with everyone starting on the 20-yard line."

Two new kickers have taken over, one for kickoffs and one for extra points. Nick Ackies, who plays defensive tackle but has shown a talent for punting, is punting for Freeman again. He was the team's starting punter last year, but ceded the job to Ryan this year.

Ryan also has been replaced by different players at wide receiver and cornerback. The offense has been forced to use more run-focused formations without him at receiver.

Ryan still has the ability to kick in college, Henderson said. Ryan has a 4.7 GPA and had attracted the attention of high academic schools. Scholarship offers for kickers aren't plentiful, even for healthy ones. Henderson hopes a school will keep open a spot for Ryan to walk on.

Ryan's injury isn't the only one affecting Freeman this year. James Turpin, a 6-foot-2, 282-pound offensive guard, also tore his ACL in the first game of the season against Midlothian.

"To lose two top-notch guys for the season," Henderson said, "it's been a rough start."

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