PUSHING PAST HIS LIMITS: Texas high school defensive lineman inspiring Bulldogs’ undefeated run

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CARTHAGE, Texas (KETK) – The undefeated Carthage Bulldogs have been one of the most dominant teams in Texas this season, and are in the state semis for the fifth consecutive year.

Now among other things, there’s something that helps drive them – one of their senior defensive lineman, an unquestioned leader who only has full use of one of his arms.

Laderan Thorn has always had very minimal movement in his right arm and hand, yet he’s been playing the game he loves since the second grade.

“Football is like a big thing in the family,” he said. “And i just wanted to be like everybody else. I didn’t want to be counted out. And I wanted to be with my friends because the majority of the time, that’s what everybody was playing, so I wanted to be a part of that.”

Laderan suffers from this condition due to a medical (brachial plexus) injury that occurred as he was being born.

“I just look at it as a blessing from God above. He made me this way, so it must be a purpose. I just show everybody else that I can do the same thing they do, just with one hand.”

Having played on varsity as a back-up since his sophomore year, he’s become a great example – and a bigger inspiration for the Bulldogs.

“You’ll never out-work Laderan Thorn,” said Bulldogs Head Coach Scott Surratt. “He’s an unbelievable kid. You can’t help him. He will not take help in the weight room, on the bench press, whatever, he’ll do it with one arm. And hang-clean whatever, he’s that kind of young man. He doesn’t make any excuses.”

“This young man got more heart than anybody I’ve ever seen in my life,” said D.J. Hicks, Carthage defensive tackle. “And I believe that like all the way through middle school, everything. He’s been doing the same thing we’ve been doing, you know, no matter what.”

But it’s not always easy.

“You know, sometimes he gets down because he doesn’t get the results he wants,” said Hicks. “But we just keep his head up, tell him to keep working as hard as he does, stuff will work out.”

But Laderan always perseveres, in part because he’s setting a precedent of showing people that they can do it for his younger nieces and nephews.

“That moment that you think you’re down, I just think of them and the people who inspire me,” he said. “I pray about it and I go to the next day going full speed.”

Which is the only way he knows how.

“He just brings the energy,” said Surratt. “He is 100 percent, or 100 miles an hour every day, 100 percent in practice every day. And so that’s the main thing he brings to our d-line and our football team.”

“We want to go 100 miles per hour,” said Kai Horton, Bulldogs quarterback. “He pushes us to go even harder because, you know, he only has one arm right now. And seeing him go 100 percent, we want to go even harder.”

“Somebody’s gotta inspire us,” said Laderan. “So I do my hardest, just to get everybody up and get ready to play

As much of an uplifting influence that Laderan has been for the Dawgs, he wants nothing more than to help this group bring home another state championship.

“There’s a lot of intensity,” he said. “We want to go back. Like us seniors, it’s our last go round, so we have to make it to the top.”

Which for Carthage also means redeeming itself after falling to Liberty Hill in the semifinals a year ago. Laderan believes playing together as a team, like they have been all season, will enable them to get it done.

“Just to watch him come out, and practice as hard as he does and play when he gets in there with his handicap,” said Surratt, “that’s unbelievable leadership.”

Carthage faces Lampasas in the 4A Division 1 state semifinals Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Randall Reed Stadium in New Caney.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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