Dukeshire thrilled to be back with South soccer

Staff photo by TOM KING Jacob Dukeshire is thrilled to be playing soccer again at Nashua South after missing last season due to a broken leg.

NASHUA – Nashua High School South coach Joe Morgan saw one of his best players, then-sophomore Jacob Dukeshire, come off the field during a preseason jamboree in Bedford last August and thought nothing of it.

“I told him ‘You can go back in’,” Morgan said.

But what Morgan and even Dukeshire didn’t know, the Panther midfielder had suffered a broken leg that would sideline one of the team’s best players for the entire season.

Thus this year’s August 13 reporting date was circled on Dukeshire’s calendar for the last six months as he couldn’t wait to return to South practice again as an upperclassman.

“It feels good to be back,” Dukeshire said. “It feels good to be playing at South again. I’ve been waiting a whole year for this.”

“It’s a lot of smiles,” Morgan said. “I feel terrible (about his injury) to this day.This coming Sunday we’re going back (to Global Premiere Soccer). Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

Dukeshire was chasing down the ball with an opponent coming after it from another direction, and he ended up getting kicked in the shin.

“I walked off the field because I think my leg was still in shock,” Dukeshire said. “I thought it was just a bruise, a bone bruise. But after I sat down, that’s when it hurt more and more. That’s when I went to the hospital because I couldn’t take the pain. I just left.”

The result: A broken tibia, which requred a long cast down to his toes from the top of his leg for a month and a half. Then a boot. Then a limp for a couple of months.

And an excruciating time watching the Panthers have one of their better regular seasons of late from the sidelines, taking part as a team manager.

“I really wanted to be on the field,” he said, “but I knew I really couldn’t do anything about it.

“The first couple of weeks I couldn’t go to practice, but then I began showing up and was the team manager, doing stats.”

But it’s a happy ending. Dukeshire was back on a soccer field in, believe it or not, early December, in an outdoor club team winter tournament. It was 20 degrees, but Dukeshire could barely feel the cold.

“I was playing soccer again,” he said, “so I was happy about that.”

Indeed, Dukeshire has gone through all the off-season training and conditioning, and played indoor soccer all winter. It just took some time last fall for the program to recover from losing a talented player.

“It was devastating,” Morgan said of the loss. “It was tough for him to stand there and watch. All those times he was there and did a bunch of stuff that nobody wants to do, it’s got to be pretty exciting to be back and contribute on game days.

“I believe so, I feel like we missed a big player, one who started as a freshman – every game except one. “I’m excited to see what he can do. It’s a little bit of a position change, but we’ll see what he can do.”

Two years ago Dukeshire enjoyed a special time, playing with his older brother Daniel, then a Panther senior.

“That was so fun,” Jacob said. “I hadn’t played with him in years. We had never been at the same school. He was always three years above me. But we got to play for South for one year.”

Dukeshire was a small freshman, and said he felt like he lost minutes toward the end of that year at outside midfield.

“I had the foot skills but not the strength,” he said. “(Morgan) would put me in for half the game, take me out, and put me in a little at the end.”

Morgan was very realistic about Dukeshire’s freshman year. The fact that he was able to start just about every game said “You have some skill but you’re not tough enough yet,” Morgan said. “He saw a lot of minutes, and hopefully we’ll see that again.”

Dukeshire was too small as a freshman to play inside, but how that he’s a junior, center mid it is.

“I’ll be defensive, but I’ll be contributing to the offense, too,” he said.

His freshman year he scored a game-winning goal, his only score of the year.

He expects to do a lot more than that this time around.

“Hopefully,” Dukeshire said smiling, “we can get a new team manager this year.”