WESTTOWN — As Ty Pringle stood on the sidelines the first four weeks of this football season, thoughts cycled of if the day would ever come when he could finally play again.
“The only thing going through my mind was that I wanted to be out there with my teammates,” Pringle said. “I just wanted to be out there.”
Those in and around the West Chester Rustin program had those thoughts for much longer than mid-August.
After a tumultuous 2016 season, when the Golden Knights finished 5-6, there was some doubt Pringle would ever suit up again in the navy and gold. Between off-field issues and academic ineligibility, Pringle’s presence was a welcomed, if not, surprising sight.
Prior to training camp Pringle had to commit to the team fully, meaning he not only had to make every practice, but attend every day of school, as he sat out the first four weeks working to become eligible again.
Pringle showed up. And as the season finally reaches October, Rustin is hoping Pringle is the piece that tilts the scale against a similarly constituted Unionville, Friday.
“I wasn’t surprised but I was very happy he stuck with it,” Rustin coach Mike St. Clair said. “To go through it shows the true testament of his character, handling something that way, in a positive way.”
On his rise to the high school ranks, Pringle was mentioned in the same breath as West Chester East’s Fred Maldonado and Rustin’s Rondell White. His talent was obvious, and as a sophomore, Pringle ran for 1,272 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Last year, with the advent of the new Class 5A in the PIAA, Pringle and Brandon Frazier appeared poised to add another chapter to Rustin’s rich history. But the pair played only five of 11 games together, dealing with injuries.
Pringle’s junior season ended with a six-carry, four-yard effort in a blowout loss to Bishop Shanahan in the first round of the district playoffs. It was a fitting end to a season where nothing went right.
“It was a lesson for me,” Pringle said. “A lesson learned. It was a little spark to work hard for a comeback.”
Rustin is 4-2 and St. Clair praises his squad for being “one of the tightest” units he’s coached. Pringle has worked his way back in seamlessly.
“Football, team-wise, he’s an outstanding player on the field,” St. Clair said. “When he wasn’t playing he was playing scout team and practicing hard for five straight weeks and that says a lot about his character. On the field he adds another element. He’s another kid who can go 80 yards on any play.”
Pringle finally took the field two weeks ago against Octorara and promptly ran for 91 yards and two scores on 10 carries. A backfield with competent runners such as Nick Benoit, Michael Covert and JT Aloisio got deeper.
“He’s very energetic and he’s much more than a just a football player,” Aloisio said of Pringle. “He’s a really good person and brings a lot of energy to the team. Even the four games he didn’t play he was the loudest on the sidelines.”
Pringle said he wants to play college football, and if he continues the dedication he’s displayed this season, his talent could allow him to do so. But there is a lot that needs to happen between then and now, including a league championship chase.
Unionville has won the last two Ches-Mont American Division titles, and that has not gone unnoticed by Pringle, who missed last year’s matchup.
“The best part is just being back with the team,” Pringle said. “We’re focused on a championship.”