The enemy for Highland High School junior lineman Payton Cave’s family has been much more treacherous than the ACL injury he suffered to his right knee on Sept. 21 against Triad.
That injury ended his junior season on the gridiron but the news that his family received the day before that turned their world upside down.
Cave’s mother, Erica Robertson, was diagnosed with cervical cancer for the second time in less than two years and the news was a double whammy to Payton and his family.
“I found out about it the day before I tore my ACL, my stepdad (Jay) came into my room and he was like we’re going to have to do it again but I just need you to know she’s going to be fine,” Cave said. “She’s strong. She’s strong. She will be all right.”
A major boost to the family has come in the past few weeks from the Highland football Bulldogs.
Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said that it was the concern of the players’ parents as well and offensive tackle Trevor Zobrist, his dad Butch and the desire of the players to step up and be a blessing to Cave’s family and help them navigate their way through the trials and tribulations of this crisis.
“Trevor’s mom Audra asked if it would be all right if we got those teal armbands and I said absolutely and from there it kind of went to socks and you do that for any of your teammates but Peyton, he’s special,” Warnecke said. “He’s a team first guy and about everything you could ask for that makes up a Highland Bulldog and all his teammates know that about him.”
For the players, reaching out to help Cave’s family by raising money with the socks and arm-bands and having their parents help out with bringing meals to them was without question the path to take.
“It was a no-brainer to do this,” senior wide receiver Sam LaPorta said. “This is for one of our teammates and it’s the least we can do by doing something like that.
“We just feel really good about (doing) it,” LaPorta said. “Supporting our teammate is a must and we think that he likes it a lot and she (his mom) appreciates it a lot.”
When Cave told his mom about the teal socks and the team’s plan for wearing them, she was overcome with emotion and endeared her even deeper to the team.
“She loves it,” Cave said. “Right when I told her she started crying, and she said it just feels great. Just having all these guys behind us at a time like this with just a lot of stuff happening at once is great.”
The team will continue to wear the teal socks on game days until the end of October and Warnecke noted that all of the 50/50 raffle drawing proceeds during home games for the rest of the season as well as the teal sock and armband sales will be donated to Cave’s family.
“We’re here to support as much as we can and we’ve got a meal train going taking turns bringing meals to them to help them out and anything we can do to help,” Warnecke said. “Brotherhood is something we live by and it’s family.”