PROSSER -- Charlie Petersen's senior year was supposed to be a coronation for the Prosser star.
Coming off an all-state junior season where he recorded 15 tackles for loss from his defensive end position, Petersen had fully recovered from a severe knee injury suffered in a playoff loss at the end of 2010.
Instead, Petersen has spent most of this season on the sidelines -- rehabbing once again.
Three days before Prosser's season opener against Kamiakin, Petersen re-tore the meniscus in his left knee and had to have surgery. Again.
"It was a pretty crappy feeling," he said. "I didn't actually think I'd be able to come back. I wanted to play at college -- didn't matter where, just play -- so I knew I had to keep rehabbing."
And rehab the knee he did.
"We were preparing not to have him," Prosser coach Benji Sonnichsen said. "He did a great job of telling us to prepare others, but he was working in the background, riding his bike and going to rehab."
Petersen was so dedicated, that in October, he brought his stationary bike to Sonnichsen's class and rode it during class.
"We realized then he was really trying to come back," the coach said.
Petersen initially injured his knee in a quarterfinals loss to East Valley last season. He was on the punt unit and was running down the field when his leg gave out.
"I had just a lot of pain in my left knee," he said. "I fell to the ground, just a lot of pain. I just remember rolling over onto my back and seeing the coaches."
Petersen had torn his Anterior Cruciate Ligament and his meniscus. He had strained his MCL and tore cartilage in his knee.
After having surgery, where doctors took part of his hamstring to give him a new ACL, Petersen spent seven months going through physical therapy. Twice a week he would do knee exercises, leg lifts, work on squats and do stretches.
Then disaster hit in August.
He was doing light jogging as part of a class when his left knee locked up and he couldn't walk.
"I figured out later that my meniscus had torn again," he said, "and got caught under my knee bone, which is why I couldn't walk."
Rather than attempt to help Prosser get revenge against Kamiakin, Petersen went back under the knife. On his birthday, no less.
After two weeks on crutches and six weeks of rehab, though, Petersen returned to the field.
"It was a huge lift," Sonnichsen said. "He is one of our captains. He played really good. He didn't miss a beat."
Petersen started the final game of the regular season against Grandview and has since started playoff games against West Valley (Spokane) and Ellensburg.
The West Valley game was especially sweet for Petersen, because he got to play at Art Fiker Stadium one final time.
"It was pretty cool," he said. "I kicked butt that game. I'm going to miss (Art Fiker) that is for sure."
Petersen was a part of a stellar defensive effort that shut out the Eagles in a 40-0 victory.
"He was in the backfield all night long," Sonnichsen said. "They had such a hard time blocking him. He was messing up their blocking schemes."
Which is something Petersen excels at, despite being an undersized 5-foot-7, 185-pound defensive tackle -- a position he switched to when he returned this season -- because it puts less pressure on his knee.
"His pad level is really good," Sonnichsen said. "He is exceptionally strong. He is really smart and he understands what blockers are trying to do to him. How to face pressure and how to face blocks that are coming to him as well."
Now, Petersen hopes to put those skills to use against Archbishop Murphy and hopefully give himself and his teammates another game.
"We have a plan going in," he said, "and if we stick to that plan, we feel pretty confident about it."
Petersen should feel confident, considering all that he has overcome so far.
* Craig Craker: 509-582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter.com/craig_craker