Last fall, James Island football player Justin Bolus was quite the physical specimen. He stood 6-2, weighed 230 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.
Today, he is lucky to be alive.
In September, Bolus underwent surgery for a twisted bowel, also known as a bowel volvulus. Then, because of complications from the first operation, he underwent surgery to repair a perforated bowel. If that wasn't enough, he developed pneumonia and had to be hospitalized a third time.
He finally was able to check out of MUSC Hospital on Monday and hopefully is on the road to recovery. Bolus signed a scholarship to play football at Charlotte, a new program that will field its first team in 2013. His path to full recovery and the football field will be long and difficult.
Bolus' father, Keith, said his son's illness was life-threatening. Bolus lost more than 30 pounds in less than a month. He withdrew from school but will re-enroll in the winter. He hopes to be able to play football, but could receive a medical redshirt next season.
“The doctors were dumfounded,” said Keith Bolus, a local attorney. “A twisted bowel … it just doesn't happen to someone like Justin who was so healthy. It usually happens to babies and older people.
Bolus traveled from Charlotte to Columbia on Sept. 7 to attend a USC football game the next day. But he felt sick and thought he was suffering from a stomach virus. Instead of being at Williams-Brice Stadium, he was in a Columbia hospital to undergo surgery for the twisted bowel.
He returned to Charleston, and on Sept. 18, he was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery for the perforated bowel. He celebrated his 19th birthday the next day.
“We hope the worst part is behind us,” his father said. “We believe he's on the way back. Hopefully, there will be no more hospitals.”
Bolus excelled on the football field and basketball court his senior year at James Island. He missed five games with a broken wrist but still put up good numbers, averaging nearly 130 yards rushing per game. He finished with 774 yards, averaging seven yards per carry, and scored eight touchdowns. He completed 25 of 56 passes for 360 yards and four TDs. He was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl and was an all-region selection in basketball as well.
St. John's Christian is in its first year of SCISA 8-man football and the team is 5-0 heading into Friday's game against Beaufort Academy.
St. John's beat Faith Christian 72-0 last week and has had a strong offense all season.
Rashae Bey, who rushed for 1,100 yards in 11-man football last fall, has 51 carries for 1,267 yards and has scored 19 touchdowns and 10 two-point conversions for 134 points.
Evan Hammond has completed 52 of his 83 attempts for 1,017 yards and 15 scores.
Jalen Ward has 20 catches for 455 yards and seven TDs. while Damian Hurta has 16 catches for 413 yards and seven TDs.
The High School League will crown state swimming champions Saturday at the South Carolina Natatorium in Columbia. The Class AAAA meet starts at 11 a.m. and the Class AAA-AA-A meet starts at 4:15 p.m.
Admission is $6.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil