Miles Francis was shocked.
“Just when I was getting comfortable on the bench, coach called my number,” Francis said. “I was like, oh boy, here we go.”
The trepidation was warranted.
On the eve of the LHSAA Division I bidistrict round, the Brother Martin forward and captain was dragging around campus in a protective walking boot, nursing a broken bone he suffered in his left foot against Catholic League rival Jesuit in the regular season.
Yet, he trekked out onto the pitch.
Minutes into the match against No. 27 seed Destrehan (18-8-3), Francis seemed OK.
He dusted defenders. Flashed dazzling footwork. Curled in pinpoint crosses. And when a ball whirled in, Francis smashed it home — the first score in a 3-1 Crusaders’ triumph at Pan American Stadium on Friday night.
“I’ll do whatever coach asks of me,” said Francis who finished with a brace and an assist.
“This is the playoffs, and the seniors only get one last shot at this, so I’ll do anything and everything for those guys even if I’m not 100 percent.”
No. 6 seed Brother Martin (12-2-4) will host the Lafayette-Ouachita Parish winner in the regional round on Thursday.
“Your foot is your main tool, so for (Miles) to tough that out and play through the pain is a true testament to him,” Brother Martin coach Stephen McAnespie said.
Following Francis’ 1-0 score in the 40th minute, Destrehan answered. The Wildcats’ Tyler Henne equalized on a knuckleball-strike from 18 yards out.
“Early in the second half, they had a bit of a spell there, and that put us on our backs a bit,” McAnespie said.
“We needed that little kick in the butt to re-evaluate and start the game again. But that’s what we expected from them, a fight out there. They have some very talented guys, and they’re hungry. If you don’t play up to your potential, you can find yourself on the wrong side of an upset.”
Brother Martin avoided that — thanks to Francis. He pinned a penalty kick into the far left post before teeing up shot inside the box for teammate Zachary Ward. The forward planted and padded the Crusaders’ lead by two minutes before time expired.
“I was going to give everything I had out there tonight, no matter what,” Francis said. “I didn’t know how much of an impact I could or would have, but I gave all that I could and it worked out for us.”
Added McAnespie: “He leads by example. To have him — at whatever percentage health he’s at, whatever it may be — have that sort of impact, it shows you the type of guy he is and his impact. He does what’s needed of him and steps up for the team.”