Landon Holloway had big plans and high expectations for the 2023 campaign.
Coming off an impressive freshman season for West Washington in which he contributed 55 tackles and four interceptions, the 6-foot, 195-pound junior tight end and defensive lineman was limited to just four games (22 tackles) last fall because of a knee injury.
However, this past April, Landon encountered an even bigger obstacle on his road to recovery.
"After getting cleared (for his knee injury), I noticed I would get tired more easily," Holloway recalled. "We thought it was because I hadn't been working out for months. However, eventually, I got an abscess under my arm that became painful. We eventually went to the doctor to have it cut open so they could run blood work."
Unfortunately, Landon and his family found out the main reason behind his most recent health issue.
"In July, I was diagnosed with leukemia and the world I knew changed drastically," explained Holloway, who also participated in basketball and golf for the Senators. "We (family) were all devastated and scared what this meant for me. Sports and school were a major part of my life, so to have them suddenly taken away definitely hurt."
Being the fierce competitor he is on the playing field, though, Landon was ready to face this delicate situation head-on.
"I am definitely upset because I miss seeing and being around my friends," said Holloway, who maintains a 3.72 grade point average and is spending the 2023-24 school year in a virtual setting. "Watching my teammates compete without me really hurts, but I am ready to take this challenge on."
Entering his third year on the Senators' sideline, Jeremy Lowery has seen Landon go through both the good and tough times.
"Landon is a very good athlete and an exceptional teammate," explained Lowery. "He is a fierce competitor who is truly loved by his teammates and coaches. When you see Landon, it is impossible not to notice his incredible smile that can truly light up the room.
"In true Landon fashion, he has taken on this adversity with extreme character. He has not blinked as he is tackling these obstacles with an attitude and effort that makes us all proud."
This is not the first time the West Washington and Campbellsville, Indiana communities have had to deal with some adversity.
In November 2019, beloved educator and football coach Phillip Bowsman passed away from complications after suffering a stroke at the age of 43.
Then on September 16, eighth-grade football player Marty Storms was lost in a car accident.
Just as they have done in the past, everyone has rallied around and comforted one of their own.
Some of the things West Washington is doing to help support the Holloway family is selling T-shirts, sweatshirts, bracelets, and earrings, as well as hosting other benefits, programs, and activities to provide financial aid.
The football team is also displaying "LH" decals on their helmets.
Surrounding communities and programs, such as Paoli High School, have also gotten involved in the cause to help cover expenses.
"The best part about this community is how we rally around those in need," Lowery added. "We know Landon will overcome this terrible disease and that he will soon return to us all, safe and healthy.
"We are confident in this because we know Landon and we have witnessed his physical and mental toughness firsthand."
So far, Landon has gone through several medical procedures at Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky and recently finished his first round of chemotherapy treatments.
"We don't have any idea what the prognosis is until the second round of chemo is over," explained Holloway. "A lot of things can go wrong and take a turn for the worst, but hopefully, everything goes well for me."
Although things are still up in the air right now, he is definitely looking into the future.
"After beating cancer, I plan on my life being exactly the same as it was before,". Holloway said. "Later this year, I plan on competing in golf and then get ready for football next season. After high school, I hope to attend either Indiana University or Indiana University Southeast to major in nursing."
Thanks to an anonymous donor, Landon and his family have been able to watch the football games online this season.
He has to be pleased with what he has seen to this point as the Senators own a 4-2 record heading into their contest at Perry Central (3-3) on September 29.
Please keep Landon and the entire Holloway family in your thoughts and prayers as he continues to fight his way back to health.
Go to www.westwashingtonschools.org for more information.
In the meantime, though, we will all "Play for Holloway". #WWeGrow FAMILY