Midway through Billerica’s crucial Merrimack Valley Conference football game Friday against Andover, the Indians had to call a time out to let exhausted quarterback Nick LaSpada catch his breath.
Now they understand why.
Coach Peter Flynn said LaSpada was diagnosed with a hole in his heart and a blood clot in his lungs, and he won’t have any physical activity for at least six months. LaSpada had a CAT scan done before Friday’s game because of the constant fatigue he was feeling in games and at practice. The results didn’t come back until after the game, a 44-28 loss in which he had three touchdown passes. Once the results were known, he was taken to Winchester Hospital Saturday evening and he remains hospitalized.
"He’s one of the best conditioned athletes we’ve ever had at Billerica. But we noticed and the kids noticed, his endurance was down big time," said Flynn. "He’s such a wonderful young man, it just breaks your heart."
Flynn called a team meeting and informed them of LaSpada’s condition Monday.
"They were shocked," said Flynn. "But the kids are rallying around him. He’s the face of Billerica football."
Flynn said teammates have been visiting LaSpada after practice and Flynn visits in the morning.
‘‘He’s going with the flow right now.’’
LaSpada was having a great season. The Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore, LaSpada was tied for sixth in scoring in Division 1 with 11 touchdowns. He also had passed for 13 touchdowns, giving him a career total of 71, the ninth-best in state history. He had hoped to attend Harvard and play defensive back. Flynn said that with LaSpada’s condition and his return to good health, a year of prep school could be an option.
Billerica is 7-2 heading into Friday’s game at Central Catholic. Flynn said sophomore Jordan Bolarinho will get the start at quarterback.
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