A year ago, Dominic Struckhoff could only watch from the sidelines as his teammates took the field.

Struckhoff was sidelined by a severe knee injury, and for the Borgia running back, the setback came at exactly the wrong time. Football season was about to begin and Struckhoff would miss a large part of it.

Now, Struckhoff is ready to make up for lost time.

“That’s big motivation for me,” he said of coming back from the injury.

A 6-1, 205-pound senior-to-be, Struckhoff is looking to make some noise and turn some heads on the gridiron this fall as Borgia’s featured running back.

“He’s had an outstanding summer,” Borgia Coach Dale Gildehaus added. “He works nonstop to get better.”

Struckhoff has had a busy summer with hopes of improving his game and earning a Division I scholarship.

Struckhoff was recently named Most Valuable Player at the Best of the West RB Showcase in St. Louis on June 28. The showcase event was administrated by RunIt Performance, a group led by former St. Louis Rams running back Arlen Harris. At the Best of the West Showcase, Struckhoff earned praise for his speed. In the pro shuttle, Struckhoff posted the top time of 4.04, better than second-place Shane Barrett of Ft. Zumwalt East by 0.1 of a second. In the 40-yard dash, Struckhoff posted a time of 4.6, third best among the participants.

Struckhoff has been running hills, lifting weights, attending camps and working with a personal trainer to be at his best for the upcoming season.

“It’s been a real good summer,” Struckhoff said. “I got to visit a bunch of colleges that I’m interested in. And this summer has been a lot of hard work getting ready for the season. I feel like I’m better than I’ve ever been.”

Gildehaus added that Struckhoff is the early favorite for the program’s Brock Olivo Award.

“The award goes to the young man who works harder than anyone else to make himself better,” Gildehaus said. “I don’t give that award out until the end of the year, but Dominic has set the standard pretty high already.”

The journey hasn’t been an easy one for Struckhoff.

As a sophomore Struckhoff started on both sides of the ball for the Knights and he was set to be a key performer as a junior. But Struckhoff suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his right leg at last summer’s team camp, wiping out most of his junior season.

“That’s the most serious injury I’ve ever had,” he said. “I went almost the whole summer without walking. Basically, I had to learn to walk again.”

Struckhoff could only watch from the sidelines on crutches, a scenario that can be agonizing for anyone with a competitive drive and high goals.  The injury derailed a promising season and Struckhoff didn’t return until October. There were only a few games left in the season by that point.

“I wasn’t even 100 percent when I came back, but I just wanted to be out there with my teammates,” he said.

But of course, he was only a junior a year ago. His senior season is still ahead.

“I feel great now,” Struckhoff said. “I have no pain at all. I knew God had a plan and I took it as a challenge every day. I knew I’d be back.”

Dominic’s father, Martin, said his son has worked his tail off after the injury with his senior year in mind. And now, Dominic is getting lots of interest from Division I schools.

According to Martin, Dominic has been contacted by Cornell, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Indiana, Northwestern, Western Illinois, North Dakota State and Vanderbilt.

“He’s on the radar,” Gildehaus said.

Now healthy and motivated for his senior year, Struckhoff appears to be primed for a big season.

“We want to have a winning season and get into districts and see how far we can go,” Struckhoff said. “And I want to have my best year possible. And I want to play well enough to go on to the college level.”

Gildehaus feels that’s a realistic possibility.

“There’s no doubt,” Gildehaus said. “He’s got great speed. He’s a two-way player. How good can he be? I think the sky’s the limit. And that’s because of his work ethic and how high he’s set the standards for himself.”

It’s safe to say Dominic Struckhoff won’t be watching too many plays from the sidelines this year.