FARMERSBURG, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Back on the sidelines and with a new appreciation for life, North Central head coach Joe Kutch spent 10 days in the hospital battling COVID-19 this summer.

Kutch said it was a scary time, especially when he received his prognosis from the doctor, giving him just a 50 percent chance of getting out of the hospital.

“With me it was bad when I went in my numbers were really low and they weren’t sure I was going to make it out of the hospital,” Kutch said. “I had to sign some waivers for experimental medicines and stuff and I said I’ll sign whatever of course. But it worked out good, got me out after about a week and a half or so and still going through therapy, but I’m back on the field and we’re having a good time right now.”

The Thunderbirds have surged since Kutch’s return, winning their last three games. However, many of the players had concerns for their coach’s health back in September.

“I was concerned I just wanted to make sure that he was all right and obviously with him not being here it was different but he came back and got us back to where we should have been,” quarterback Jacob Adams said.

“He made a big impact on us he like made us try harder and go harder and made us like happy just for him being there we were just happy for him,” running back Tyler Vaughn said.

Fullback Jeremiah Swalls said he was confident the coach would make a full recovery.

“That was crazy you know it was scary but he came back full force and we started winning so it’s been a blast people not thinking we’re going to win and then turning around and coming home and getting to play another week,” Swalls said.

Kutch said after this experience he appreciates the little things in life.

“It makes you appreciate everything from the grass to the sky. Every day is special to me now,” Kutch said. “It makes a big difference. When you’re that sick that quick, you go from running practice to a couple days later being in the hospital and can’t get out of bed. It does it makes you appreciate everything in life more so and that much more grateful to be here with the boys.”

North Central plays for the sectional title at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5 at Springs Valley.