From time to time The Press Democrat plays catch-up. Where are the athletes we once championed in high school? Where did they end up? Did it turn out as they planned?
Makana Garrigan had a plan. He graduated from Casa Grande in 2011 and was co-SCL Player of the Year with Casa quarterback Nick Sherry. Sherry was going to UNLV. Garrigan, a defensive back, was headed to the University of Nevada in Reno.
"I told Nick that when I intercept him," Garrigan told The Press Democrat in February 2011, "there are no hard feelings. He told me there would be no hard feelings after he throws a touchdown over me."
Garrigan caught 53 passes for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns — all from Sherry — in their senior seasons. But the next Sherry pass Garrigan would catch, Garrigan could score another touchdown — by intercepting it and running it into the end zone. Nice, romantic symmetry.
But even then as he said that in February, Garrigan's right shoulder felt a little tingly. No worries, he thought. It was just a stinger, the docs said, a rather benign tagline for when a nerve is stretched, impacted, sending numbness down arms to fingtertips. Happens all the time in football. Usually the nerves regenerate. It's a common injury, not a red-flag, oh-my-God injury. It's not like a concussion or a torn ACL.
In the fall of 2011, Casa played Montgomery and on defense Garrigan went to tackle a Vikings runner. Garrigan started his dive aiming for the player's waist. At the last second the player dipped his head. Garrigan's right shoulder hit the player's helmet.
"My arm went numb," Garrigan said.
He shrugged. This is football. This is not floating in a swimming pool on a rubber ducky.
"A broken bone is not that big of a deal in football," Garrigan said. "It (injury) happens all the time. About every 10 plays you see someone on the ground."
Garrigan played a couple of more games for Casa, his shoulder wrapped. Time and rest take care of stingers. Usually. It would be more than nine months before summer camp in Reno, his next serious football contact. Nine months is plenty of time to heal. He never doubted he would.
"I grew up to watching Ray Lewis and Sean Taylor," Garrigan said. "I learned about Ronnie Lott from my dad."
Football ran deep in him. The kind of deep that nothing else penetrates. Sure, his family and his friends were right there next to him in spirit, but outside of that Garrigan was driven to the sport. So Kimo Garrigan drove his son to the University of Nevada in the summer of 2011, telling his boy he'd see him after the fall semester.
"Three days later, I get a call from a Reno coach," Kimo Garrigan said. "He said, &‘Pick up your son. His shoulder is damaged. He failed the physical.'"
The depression and the bewilderment were nearly overwhelming. When he left Casa, Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada recruited him heavily. Garrigan was an athlete. He was a quick study. He was coachable. He was intelligent. He was driven. He had plans. Now it was time to retire as a player? At 18?