By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
SHELBINA, Mo. -- Brett Threlkeld didn't realize how close he was to the intersection of Highway 55 and WW just outside of Shelbina on his way to school a few weeks ago.
With his vision impaired by fog on his way to school, Threlkeld ended up running a stop sign and drove through a T-intersection.
The South Shelby junior quarterback's 2009 Ford Mustang went over an embankment and through a fence before he came to a stop. He emerged with some bruises and cuts, but his car was totaled.
"It was foggy, and I was coming over a hill and didn't think I was that close to the stop sign in the road," Threlkeld said. "It was pretty scary."
After he went to the hospital, Threlkeld was cleared by the doctors and returned for practice later that day.
"He was a lucky young man," South Shelby coach Rob Wilt said. "He went and got cleared and went back to practice the same day. He had some bruises and scrapes, but he was blessed and came out of there OK."
Threlkeld, who was named a captain halfway through the season, didn't want to be away.
"I was feeling really bad. I wanted to come back to school, be where people care about me and where my friends are," Threlkeld said. "I was worried about my team. I wanted to strap up and practice that day so we could get better and ready."
Threlkeld's toughness and dedication has become important in a transition year for South Shelby. The Cardinals are 2-4 and have shifted players around on the line and in the backfield.
Two weeks ago, South Shelby moved Bryce Fifer from fullback to tackle, Jacob Trivette from guard to tackle and Sidney Wear from tackle to guard.
Add to that junior running back Trace Windsor, who rushed for 1,700 yards last season, was limited for a few weeks with an arm injury, and Threlkeld was forced to do a little more on offense.
Threlkeld has rushed for 248 yards and four touchdowns and also thrown for three touchdowns and 148 yards.
"He's a good runner with the ball," Wilt said. "He still needs to work on his passing. We're trying to get that better and more consistent. He's never been a pure passer, but we're hoping with his running ability that keeps people honest. They have to choose whether they go up and get him or stay on our wide receivers."
Wilt shifted his offense while Windsor battled injury. South Shelby operated more out of the pistol to take advantage of Threlkeld's running abilities.
He rushed for 102 yards against Louisiana and 103 yards against Palmyra in Weeks 1 and 3, respectively.
Being named a captain was a big deal for Threlkeld. The only captain he remembers who wasn't a senior was Riley Schmitz from two years ago. In practice, he always wants his teammates to hustle.
"The main thing is being vocal and communicating with everyone," Threlkeld. "Go hard on sprints. Run to the ball, run to the water, hustle anywhere."
Threlkeld credits Cardinals senior wide receiver Adam Ellyson, who is tied for the team high with six receptions, for helping him develop into a leader.
Ellyson used to play quarterback before making the switch to wide receiver.
"He puts it through your head to keep trying hard to go 100 percent and never give up," Ellyson said. "He's always first in sprints and is going as hard as he can. He's just vocal."
Threlkeld was fortune to not get hurt in a car accident.
He's taken advantage of his second chance, and his attitude has helped him become a leader.
"The thing good about Brett is that he's a ‘Yes sir,', ‘No, sir,' kind of kid," Wilt said. "He's a hustler. This year, we were short on seniors, and about midway through the season, I decided to make him a captain as a junior. He has a linebacker mentality and is willing to put his head in there and be tough."