Slater savors return to field
Lansing High football fans had seen this play a dozen times before - Jeff Slater running a deep corner route with quarterback Matt Warner hitting him in stride for a long touchdown strike.
That was last year, though.
With Slater sidelined for the first five games this season with a broken upper left arm, Warner's favorite target was unavailable for action.
Slater returned to the field for the first time Friday night in Lansing's 32-7 victory over rival Immaculata, and Warner wasted no time looking for his friend. Slater saw limited action at receiver, tailback and linebacker throughout the game, but when Slater broke deep early in the fourth quarter, Warner stepped up and found him for a 34-yard touchdown.
"Oh my God, man. Before the play I looked at Warner and I said, 'this is it, man. Just throw it up to me,'" Slater said. "Warner's been excited about me coming back because I've got a little speed, and he just threw a perfect ball."
For Slater, the return to the field was special for a number of reasons. Watching from the sidelines for so long was painful for the senior to watch, but he also missed playing with his friends. Most of Lansing's 20 seniors started their playing careers together in middle school and Slater wanted to end his career playing with them, too.
"No matter what, with me or without me, we are a good, solid team," Slater said. "I'm just coming back trying to help. I didn't come back to win football games or to play in my Homecoming game. I came back to play with my best friends. That's what I wanted to do."
Slater finished the game with three tackles, one carry for one yard, and one catch for a 34-yard touchdown. Slater and the Lions next play at 7 p.m. Friday against the Basehor-Linwood Bobcats at Frank Graham Field. It will be first game of district play. Lansing beat Basehor in triple-overtime, 37-34, last year at Basehor.