Effects of spider bite sneak up on McCray

The Armwood star, headed to Indiana, thought he had a mosquito bite. Days later, he's in the hospital.

Published April 5, 2005

TAMPA - A spider bite put Armwood's all-state running back, Demetrius McCray, in the hospital and he must rehabilitate his left arm for weeks if not months.

Bitten below the left elbow nearly two weeks ago, McCray thought it was nothing more than a mosquito bite. As the days went by, however, things turned serious.

The bite is believed to come from a brown recluse spider, whose venom aggressively infects and spreads outward. About a week after the bite, Armwood coach Sean Callahan said McCray, "looked like Popeye with the huge forearm and the little biceps."

"The thing is," Callahan said, "McCray has pretty big muscled upper arms. So this was looking really nasty."

Callahan said McCray made two trips to the emergency room where he received antibiotics and had the bite lanced.

At 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Callahan said McCray called him to say he was going to the hospital because of the swelling. A few hours later, McCray had surgery to relieve the infection. By Monday, after a nearly constant stream of antibiotics, officials at Tampa General Hospital said he would be released soon.

No long-term trouble is expected from the bite and Callahan said McCray should be 100 percent by this summer when he reports to Indiana, where he signed a football scholarship in February.

"He's a big, strong guy and he'll be fine," Callahan said. "It will take some work to get that arm back 100 percent, but I have no doubt he'll do it."

The problems with the bite started a few days after McCray was awarded the Class 3A-4A Golden Helmet award, given each year to the county's top players. He earned the award after rushing for 1,800 yards and helping Armwood win a second consecutive state title.

McCray was the fastest of Armwood's triple threat that included fullback Kalvin Bailey and quarterback Jameel Williams. McCray, who finished with 2,978 rushing yards the past two seasons, had arguably his best game in the 36-35 state semifinal victory against Miami Washington, in which he rushed for 122 yards, scored four touchdowns and had an 80-yard touchdown reception with two minutes, 15 seconds remaining.

He finished his prep career as part of Armwood and Hillsborough County football history, contributing to each of the following records: Armwood became the first county team to win back-to-back state titles (2003 and 2004) and win 29 consecutive games on the field (one loss by forfeit). McCray also was part of a group of three backs who rushed for more than 1,400 yards each in 2003 - a first.