Ward Set to Return for Rangers

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By WSIL Sports

BENTON -- Standing on the sidelines isn't something Benton senior Daulton Ward is accustomed to. The three-year starter has missed both games so far this season.

"Right before the Carterville game, I about burst into tears because I saw all my boys out there playing and I couldn't be out there to help them," Ward said.

One week before the season started, Ward noticed a pain in his side.

"It was just hurting me all day long and it kept getting worse," he said. "I was actually out at football practice and one of the coaches came up and asked if I was all right and I said no."

He was rushed to the hospital where doctors soon diagnosed the problem, appendicitis. They operated the next day, a 90-minute procedure to remove his appendix. Ward spent three days in the hospital and was released less than a week before Benton's first game against Carterville.

"I was kind of scared that I was going to have surgery and that I couldn't play for the football season."

A week later, Daulton was back at practice. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound offensive tackle took it slow, working out and lifting weights on his own. Now he's taking reps with the first team offense, preparing to make his return to the Rangers.

"He's got practices in and he's been going at it for awhile," Benton head coach Jeremy Clodfelder said. "He's eager right now and we're just going to go day-by-day and see how he feels."

Clodfelder hopes to have Daulton back for this week's game at Pinckneyville. But he doesn't want to rush it. Not with Ward's future. Several FCS schools, including Illinois State, Eastern Illinois and SIU, have expressed interest in Daulton and fellow senior offensive lineman Gavin Suver.

"I think they're going to have opportunities to play at the next level," Clodfelder said. "Two hard working kids that have become leaders in our program."

For now though, Daulton's just happy to have the chance to suit up this Friday night.

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