MADISON, Fla. -- The hurt doesn't show.
The pain that Desmond Gee is feeling has no symptoms or signs. Yet those closest to the Madison County fullback say he hasn't acted any different in the past week. Certainly, his play didn't show any letdown after he rushed for 155 yards and three touchdowns Friday in the second round of the FHSAA playoffs.
However, nothing has been the same for Gee in the past week. Gee's mother, Tonya, died on Nov. 16 after spending more than two months in the hospital with pneumonia.
"To tell you the truth, the only time he really changed was when it happened," teammate Eugene Hayes, Madison's star linebacker, said. "That's painful. But, he's bounced back."
With Gee, it's difficult to tell. Already one of the team's quietest players, his silence has spoke louder in the last week.
"He doesn't let (his emotions) show, but I'm sure he has them," Cowboys coach Frankie Carroll said. "Actually on Friday, he was a little more emotional. He wanted to keep running it, and I told him after the first half we were probably going to sit him down.
"He didn't like that too much. So, we let him get another series after the half."
The Cowboys hardly needed it as they pummeled district rival Wakulla, 42-9, to advance to the Class 2A semifinals. While he didn't have to play the game, as Gee said, "I came too far not to."
Gee dedicated that game to his mother, and the rest of the team made sure it was a night to remember.
"For one thing, the offensive line said they were going to let him have a big night and make it possible for him," Carroll said. "Plus, he seemed to have an extra gear."
The rest of this season figures to be a tribute to one of the Cowboys' biggest fans. Tonya Gee never missed a game, according to Desmond, and she loved to scream for No. 13, her son.
"Right there, that made his whole season," Hayes said. "It made him want to get out there and do it even worse."
Gee, who rushed for 1,762 yards and 26 touchdowns last year when Madison finished runners-up in 2A, has already played an enormous role for the undefeated and top-ranked Cowboys (11-0). When Wakulla and Madison met three weeks ago at Boot Hill Stadium to decide the district championship, Gee rushed for 170 yards - in the fourth quarter alone.
He finished with 317 yards and four touchdowns that night to cement a 28-6 victory.
"He's hard to describe," Carroll said. "He has tremendous faith and tremendous strength. To do what he's done in the situation he's in shows the kind of character this kid has."
Earlier this season, the junior had 245 yards and a pair of scores against Tallahassee power Lincoln. He's approaching his huge numbers from last season, and try to lead the Cowboys one victory further.
He opened the playoffs with 193 yards and three touchdowns against Panama City Arnold, needing just 10 carries to do it. He didn't play in the second half of that game either.
As the Cowboys head toward a possible third title game appearance in four years, they'll need more strong performances from Gee. But none will be as sweet as Friday's.
"It meant a lot to me because it was her first time watching since (she got sick)," Gee said.
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