It hasn’t been an easy few weeks for Jaxon Fancher.
After rushing for 1,129 yards during the regular season, including 107 yards in a 19-0 win over Palisade on Oct. 27, Fancher noticed what he thought was a bruise from turf burn when he woke up the morning after that latest victory.
He brushed it off until he woke up on Oct. 29, when the “bruise” became massive and he had to go to the hospital.
On Oct. 30, Fancher woke up with a 104-degree fever and had to wait nine hours to be finally admitted to the hospital.
“They thought I was going septic with that 104 fever again,” Fancher said. “It wouldn’t go down, I took a ton of Tylenol and it would not go down. Eventually, they put ice packs all over my body and eventually, I broke the fever, thank god.”
Doctors realized Fancher had a serious staph infection from the turf burn he got against Palisade. Fancher went into surgery on Nov. 1, where doctors cut open Fancher’s arm and had to use six liters of water to drain all the puss and the staph infection out of his arm.
After the surgery, Fancher said his arm immediately felt better and that his body should rid itself of what’s left of the infection.
He plans on being ready to play on Saturday when the Demons face Lutheran in the second round of the 3A state playoffs.
“I’m going to be looking like Rob Gronkowski out there,” said Fancher, who plans to wear a huge arm sleeve to protect his elbow.
This surely wasn’t the injury Fancher’s father, Kalon, thought he was protecting his son from when he held his son out of contact football until Jaxon was 12.
Fancher was inspired to play football because of his father. Kalon Fancher played football at NCAA Division II University of Nebraska Kearney, where he met Jaxon’s mother, Tiffany, a Division I volleyball player at University of Wyoming before transferring to Nebraska Kearney.
The Durango senior played a few positions on the football field growing up, including quarterback, which he thought he would play in high school. He’s played running back for Durango since his sophomore year.
“I love getting the ball and scoring touchdowns,” Fancher said. “It feels amazing scoring those long touchdowns, and having a breakaway play is always the best. You can’t imitate that ever.”
Fancher has had plenty of long runs and touchdowns, finding the end zone 16 times this season. He’s also averaging 125.4 yards per game, which ranks fourth in Class 3A.
“He’s incredibly dynamic,” Demons coach Matt Burton said. “He’s also a big threat in the passing game, just getting the ball in his hands any way we can.”
Fancher still had to wait his turn playing for a successful program. In his junior year, he was in a reserve role in former coach Todd Casebier’s offense, which was a running back’s dream because the system centered around the backfield.
Casebier retired in February, and Burton brought in a spread-style offense with less of an emphasis on the run game.
Fancher said it’s easier to find the holes in Burton’s offense with an established passing attack compared to Casbier’s offense, where the defenses solely focused on stopping the run.
“I’m more of a Walter Payton type of player, more elusive,” Fancher said. “I would definitely avoid the hit than take it on. I try and use my shiftiness to try and slip off players. I’d rather take that outside edge and hit it with my speed than run up the middle and take on five guys at once.”
Fancher also runs in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter races for Durango’s track and field team, which makes him faster on the gridiron.
Before the greener pastures of graduation and track season, Fancher and the Demons have unfinished business against Lutheran.
“There’s definitely some slander being thrown around about Lutheran in the locker room just because we lost to them last year, and we don’t want to get humiliated again and we want to reverse the roles,” Fancher said. “We want to destroy them.”