HAMPSTEAD, NC (WECT) - Watching Topsail High School junior running back Noah Lavalle during drills, you wouldn't know he's less than six months removed from surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Lavalle doesn't run with a limp or wear a knee brace.
He only learned about the injury after knee pain that flared up while he was wrestling as a sophomore.
Lavalle's first concern was whether he'd be able to play football.
"I was so mad," said Lavalle. "I was hoping I would be ready for football. That's really the biggest thing in my head."
Lavalle started rehab as soon as possible after surgery.
"I was in physical therapy almost every day for the first four months after surgery," said Lavalle.
"He had two tears. They had one that they just cleaned up and the other they repaired," said Topsail head coach Wayne Inman about Lavalle's injury. "When you repair a meniscus, it takes time, and you have to be patient. His problem was when he felt good, he felt like he should be able to work instead of doing the rehab. Patience was the biggest thing we had to overcome with Noah."
During Lavalle's recovery, Topsail coaches made sure he didn't rush things.
"They always told me to take my time with my recovery and don't rush it," Lavalle said. "That's what I have been trying to do. I just want to play football."
"We don't need him to come out too early and reinjure something or pull a hamstring," said Inman. "We need him 100 percent throughout the whole season. We need him from start to finish."
Lavalle started the season with a bang, rushing for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in a season-opening 28-0 win against Trask last Friday.