Lisbon’s senior football quarterback and baseball pitching ace knew enough from a lifetime in sports to diagnose the injury: A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. While the Greyhounds gutted out a playoff victory in his absence, Bourget added and subtracted numbers in his head, seeking reassurance that his high school athletic career wasn’t over.

“It was contact, but it wasn’t really hard. I went to make a block and my knee just stuck. It popped and I fell,” Bourget said. “I was mad. I knew. I knew I’d be done. I was thinking how many months until the first (baseball) game.”

The answer was five, give or take a week. With athletes in contact sports returning from such catastrophe in six months these days, Bourget was willing to bet that he would regain the strength to wind up, push off, and deliver fastballs in the neighborhood of 80 mph in plenty of time.

There’s meeting goals, and there’s shattering them. Bourget brought his clean bill of health to practice on the first day of permitted practice for pitchers and catchers in March. A month later, he spun a complete-game, 2-1 victory at St. Dom’s on opening day.

He hasn’t looked back, and unless he slid up the pant leg of his uniform to reveal a sleek, red knee brace, nobody would notice the difference. Through Lisbon’s first 11 games, Bourget was 3-2 with a miniscule 0.94 ERA, allowing only four earned runs in 32 2/3 innings of work. He massed 44 strikeouts and only nine walks in that span. And he is tearing it up at the plate, batting .481 with 10 RBIs.

“The way medicine is nowadays, they can get you ready. I knew he was not going to miss any games at all if he could help it. He was going to work twice as hard to be ready for the regular season,” Lisbon coach Randy Ridley said. “I’ve known him for a long time. I knew he was going to be able to go through it and do everything he could to get there.”

It didn’t hurt that Bourget set the standard for a model patient. He went in for surgery a week after the incident, then began a rigorous routine that included hour-long physical therapy sessions twice a week.

Athletes who shrink the recovery time window the most are the ones who put in the extra work when nobody is watching. Bourget was all-world in that regard, also.

“You start right away. They give you home workouts and stuff. You do little things in the beginning. When you first get the surgery, your leg is straight, so it’s bending the knee and stuff to get the strength back in your muscles,” Bourget said. “PT was good. They pushed me. Your knee strengthens around it. It’s just your muscles around it, like your thighs, your calf muscles. Right after the surgery they’re nothing.”

The usual timetable for physical therapy is six months. Bourget completed his in about 14 weeks.

He also was diligent about staying in the gym, doing squats and upper-body exercises to prepare for the rigors of seven-inning stints in the Mountain Valley Conference.

“They were very surprised. I probably could have come back sooner. They just wanted to be cautious and make sure I didn’t do anything to mess it up again,” Bourget said. “I think I had a goal. I wanted to get back for baseball and pushed myself every day pretty much, doing what I needed to do.”

Ridley witnessed the injury from close range as an assistant football coach.

“There was no thought in my mind of him being able to go the first day,” he said. “There was no way. The game he went down, my first thought, ‘Well, we’ve got to make do for the beginning of the season.’ All the thought was that this (final week of the regular season) was the time of the year we’d expect him to be back.”

Being in peak condition at the time of the misfortune likely helped, Bourget said.

His 2014 baseball season extended into the first week of August with his American Legion team, Pastime Club of Lewiston, qualifying for state tournament play. Summer 7-on-7 gridiron drills transitioned seamlessly into a stellar season as a third-year varsity starter at QB.

“I had been throwing a lot (before the injury). I think it was just getting my confidence back with my knee,” Bourget, who plans to pitch at Husson University, said. “Once I got that, I got my velocity back. I wasn’t worried about my knee, just going all out.”

Once he recovered from the shock of seeing the cornerstone of his rotation walk into the gym, approved for the opening day of workouts, Ridley was delighted to adjust his expectations for the season.

“The first few throws, you could see he was favoring it a little bit,” Ridley said. “Then when we got the brace on, you could see the confidence level go back to where it normally is. He was his normal self. Part of his therapy was throwing and hitting and getting himself ready for it.”

Bourget’s best performance of the season may have been a one-hitter in a loss at Dirigo. Prior to a loss Saturday morning to Winthrop, Lisbon (10-3) trailed only the Cougars in the Class C West Heal Point standings.

After the physical and emotional sting of his abbreviated football championship dreams, Bourget is counting days in his head again — the number that remains until the playoffs begin.

“My strength is good. My knee is feeling good,” Bourget said. “I’ve been pitching well. The whole team is playing well.”

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