Pain appears to be no match for Justin Fisher.
Between battling through two separate back ailments as well as a recent issue with his right knee, the Mishawaka High senior quarterback still continues to thrive on the gridiron.
"I've broken my back now two different times, one of which happened earlier this spring," recalled Fisher. "It's been unfortunate, but I've had really great people around me that have kept my spirits high, and I'm just happy to be able to play."
After missing three plus contests, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Fisher made a triumphant return on October 1 in a 40-20 victory over NorthWood by completing 3-of-4 passes for 59 yards and rushing 20 times for 125 yards with three touchdowns.
While dealing with a number of obstacles might prove to be frustrating for many individuals, strong family support has proven to be crucial in Fisher's rehabilitation.
"I would say physical toughness comes from my two brothers (C.J. and Brady)," explained Fisher. "We'd be out in the yard for hours as kids playing tackle football from the time we could walk.
"Mentally. I would say my parents. My parents taught me from a young age to never back down from a challenge and just to grind your way through."
A fixture behind center for the Cavemen since his sophomore campaign, Fisher has seen both his confidence level and numbers increase over time.
After going 24-of-59 for 328 yards with two touchdowns and running 220 times for 1,389 yards with 17 scores in 2019, he went 23-of-50 for 438 yards with six scores and ran the ball 201 times for 1,444 yards and 21 touchdowns last fall.
Despite being limited to just seven games, Fisher has still run the ball 110 times for 744 yards with 12 touchdowns and completed 12-of-20 passes for 291 yards with two scores.
"Our coaches do a great job getting us mentally prepared through scouting reports and film," Fisher said. "As far as how much film I watch varies, but typically a few hours a week."
"Playing football here at Mishawaka has taught me a lot of things. Some that come to mind would be how to work hard, how to persevere through tough situations and overall, just how to be a better human being."
Since inserting him as the leader of the offensive attack, Mishawaka boss Keith Kinder has watched Fisher blossom into a leader.
"He is an incredible talent, great teammate and competitor," said Kinder, now in his fourth season in charge. "We're happy that we were able to get him back. He is like a coach on the field because he is one make the majority of the decisions for us."
Along with his family, another individual who had a great influence on Fisher was former Mishawaka assistant coach Gregg Smith, who unfortunately passed away on March 8 from a tragic accident at his home.
"I had the great honor to be close with Coach Smith and still to this day, I am very close with his family," Fisher said. "This season we've really talked about his 'L.O.D.' (Lights Out Defense) saying and all the things that that represents. 'L.O.D.' has really came to represent all the core values within our program."
Although claiming a second straight Northern Lakes Conference championship didn't take place, the hope of capturing o fourth consecutive (Class 5A) sectional title and possibly beyond (a state championship) remain within reach for Fisher and his teammates.
"It was a great experience (to win the NLC in 2020) and it was kinda fun to be able to play a bunch of new teams," Fisher recalled. "However, we've got a lot of things to get better at and we're just working to get better and improve every week."
All of this preparation paid off on October 29 in a 35-7 upset of No. 6 Concord in the sectional semifinals as Fisher ran 17 times for 101 yards with a touchdown.
Although Fisher has aspirations of playing football at the collegiate level, his concentration right now is helping the No. 7 Cavemen (8-2) take care of business against No 10 Michigan City (7-3) on November 5 at Steele Stadium for the Class 5A Sectional 10 championship.
"I just wanna be the best I can be every week and do whatever I can to help my team go 1-0 every week," said Fisher, who has a grade-point average over 4.0. "I wanna play football and obviously get my college degree, but as far as what school and what major, I have no clue yet."