3A Final: West’s Gupton kept playing for a reason

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2008

By Ronnie Gallagher
WINSTON-SALEM ó Most of his teammates had disappeared into the locker room, but Marco Gupton was still outside, peering up at the droves of fans in blue celebrating in the stands at BB&T Field.
“This is great,” he said.
Gupton basically has been playing on one leg since he suffered a knee injury in the 10th game of the regular season. An ACL injury usually means the end.
Gupton would not allow it.
And now, seven games later, he is a one-legged state champion. Sort of.
Actually, both legs went out on the field and played a key role in West Rowan’s 35-7 win over West Craven.
Why didn’t Gupton have surgery when he first hurt the knee?
“I knew how close we were to getting here,” he said. “I felt like it was fate. We all wanted it really bad.”
So he somehow put weight on the knee and played. He even started his last game as a Falcon.
“I felt wonderful,” he said. “The knee was the best it’s felt since I hurt it. When you play, the adrenaline takes over. You don’t feel the pain until later.”
It was West Craven feeling the pain from Gupton and all of his defensive back mates, who stopped a passing attack averaging almost 400 yards per game.
“We just played together and looked out for each other,” Gupton said.
There was only once he fell to the ground. In the second half, he was helped off after the knee buckled and was given one of the loudest ovations of the day.
“I went back in, though,” Gupton said.
And got in on a few more tackles.
Gupton has plenty of colleges interested, but first things first. He assures everyone he will have surgery next Friday.
Surgery was the last thing on his mind as he looked out on the field. Gupton was thinking more about the legacy he and his teammates will leave on a little country school outside of Salisbury. He wanted to savor every moment until he had to take that white and blue uniform off for the last time.
“I’ve never felt anything like this,” Gupton said. “Maybe my wedding day will be better.”