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Alta High player Jalen Sutton recovering from spinal cord injury

Alta High senior Jalen Sutton is recovering at Primary Children’s Hospital after emergency surgery to his spinal cord on Saturday following an injury he suffered to his C4 and C5 vertebrae in a football game on Thursday.

The injury to the receiver/defensive back occurred during the second quarter of the junior varsity game at Stansbury on Thursday.

According to a GoFundMe page set up for the family, initially Sutton lost feeling in his arms and everything below his chest, but on Monday he was starting to gain feeling in his abdomen, both hands and both feet.

Sutton is an only child according to the GoFundMe page and turns 18 in three weeks. His family moved to Utah from Florida prior to his junior year of high school.

“Three days after surgery, he has regained feeling in his abdomen, both arms, both hands and both feet, as well as some movement in his right arm,” Cynthia Meier, Sutton’s aunt, said on the GoFundMe page. “He is currently in the ICU and has had to be intubated while receiving his food via a feeding tube.”

“Jalen is strong, and he is a fighter, which he has proven to the medical staff already. He will get through this with the help of all his friends, family, and supporters,” Meier said on the GoFundMe page.

Stansbury head coach Eric Alder was at the game and said it was a very unfortunate incident that occurred on a routine tackle on an outside running play.

“The two players collided. Neither player did anything wrong. It was just a very unfortunate incident,” said Alder.

Alta head coach Alema Te’o said, as expected, his players are shaken up by what happened to their teammate, but they dedicated their win at Sandpoint, Idaho, on Saturday to Sutton.

“They’re all committed to try to find ways to assist him in any way possible, whether financially or moral support. Our kids are 100% behind him and family. We all want the same thing is for him to have a positive recovery and he can get up and do the normal things he’s been doing his whole life,” said Te’o.

Alta’s coach said Sutton is a great teammate, everyone in the locker room loves him. He loves football, too, which was why he was playing in the JV game last Thursday as he tried to get more reps at cornerback as he adjusted from previously playing safety.

“They’re all disappointed that he’s not with us right now but they’re going to play their hearts out for him on Friday night,” said Te’o.

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