By ANDY WOLF
Matt Cash’s senior season of football hasn’t been anything like he imagined.
The University of Findlay offensive lineman hasn’t gotten to play at all because of the discovery of blood clots in his right calf and both lungs over the past year.
Cash was one of 10 seniors honored before Saturday’s 70-28 victory over Alderson Broaddus.
He’s embraced the adversity with an introspective look.
“It’s been a long road for me. My road is really a road less traveled for most,” Cash said.
Cash shared the moment with his parents, teammates and coaches on Saturday and felt a sigh of relief and exuberance — like his dream had come true.
“That moment was definitely a precious moment,” he said.
His journey to and through Findlay has been a challenging one.
After being a high school standout on Trotwood-Madison’s OHSAA state title team, Cash started six games as a freshman at Benedict College (South Carolina) in 2012.
He shortly decided to transfer after his offensive line coach got fired.
Cash eventually landed at Findlay because of previous relationships built with current offensive line coach Kory Allen, amongst other coaches.
He sat out the 2014 and 2015 seasons to get his academic credits right before being active for 2016.
Cash played sparingly as the sixth or seventh man in the rotation.
Midway through the season he began to feel a tightness in his chest.
Heavy breathing occurred in even the simplest of drills. Eventually, a pain in his right foot developed.
“In my mind, me being a competitor, I’m like ‘I’m getting out of shape. I need to pick it up,’” Cash said.
After playing through it for a month, he went to get blood drawn at Blanchard Valley Health System in Findlay, which called him back the same day.
Multiple clots were found in his right calf, prompting a CT scan, which found a few more on each lung.
The Oilers were about to make a 12-hour trek north to Michigan Tech, in the state’s Upper Peninsula. Sitting still on a long bus ride would have made the clots worse.
Cash managed to take it easy over the spring workouts, feeling normal enough to train with the aid of blood thinners.
He had his sights on recovering to play his final year.
The 6-foot-3, 313-pounder hoped to compete for the vacated starting job at right guard this season or at least be the first rotation player in for the unit.
But he never got clearance.
“It’s hard because they tell you to get checked every six months, but I was pushing,” Cash said. “I’m getting checked three months in and the doctors were like ‘calm down.’”
Upon learning he’d never be cleared for preseason camp, he shared the tough realization first with his parents and then with his coaches.
“It gets tough at certain times, but with the well-being of me and the team is doing great, so it’s not really about me,” Cash said. “I think it’s more about the whole group.”
Cash cites his family foundation, maturity and going through a lot growing up as to what’s helped him deal with the circumstances.
“Everything happens for a reason; you’ve got to keep hindsight, keep tunnel vision,” Cash said. “You’ve just got to be happy. You’re blessed, regardless of what’s going on. Everybody is blessed to be alive and to have what they have and be in certain situations.”
He has remained with the team, building on the bonds with his teammates and coaches.
UF coach Rob Keys has seen numerous players have seasons cut short due to injury or other circumstances.
Each one is equally upsetting, but ultimately he knows there’s more to life than football.
“We spend a lot of time prepping and planning, but we have a lot of other things in our life: family, faith, friends,” Keys said. “In Matt’s case, he’s in a situation that he needs to do what’s best for his life.”
Cash will graduate with a business management degree and plans on getting his Master of Business Administration degree right after.
He’s looking to work in the business office in a hospital setting and eventually become a human resources manager for a sports agency.
“It’s tough for me and it’s tough for my folks,” Cash said. “At the end of the day, I’m getting my education.”
Football: Cash embraces adversity
By ANDY WOLF