There’s been something different about Eagles football this season — even before they got on the field to play.
It was noticeable during summer practice, senior Baylee Mosier said.
“Last year, we were having 10, 15 guys out, maybe, during the summer,” he said.
This summer, even in the worst heat and humidity, there were consistently more than 40 at every practice. Mosier said he loved looking around a classroom filled with football players and seeing guys standing because they didn’t have enough chairs.
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“We’re all brothers,” said Noah Carter, the Eagles’ freshman quarterback.
“That family atmosphere is what we’re really trying to get at, and I think that’s awesome, because I’m starting to feel that,” Mosier said. “And I hope that the younger guys can look up to us, us seniors and juniors.”
Players of all ages — with no coaches even around to hear them — talk about wanting to be recognized when they are in the community and to have the community take pride in them.
And not just pride for how they perform on the field but for how they act off the field as well.
Carter said he feels that pride when he’s out with his teammates and sees how they act.
“It’s something these guys have really taken to heart,” assistant coach Colten Sample said.
In July, the team hosted a community blood drive that exceeded its collection goals.
Head coach Randy Minniear brought the idea to the team, but he deflects credit. Taking the idea and running with it all came down to the players, he said.
The atmosphere of the team builds on itself, assistant coach Jay Myers said.
“The more that they get excited and appreciate what they’re doing in the football program, it seems to be kind of leaking out to other people,” assistant coach Kevin Greve said. “We’re hoping that that will be something that more people see — that being part of the football program’s a great thing. It’s a great opportunity.”
On the sidelines, the intensity is palpable as Brown County’s players cheer on their teammates.
The Eagles fought to win their first game 21-20 against Edinburgh.
Even to the end of their 34-6 loss to South Putnam on Aug. 26 — a team they lost to 48-0 last year — the only fatigue that showed was physical.
South Putnam had players twice the size of most of Brown County’s. Despite a relentless pounding, Brown County held them to only a handful of gains and two first-downs in the first half.
“I know you’re hurt,” Sample told the linemen with seconds left in the third quarter and the Eagles down 14-0. “But how’s it going to feel tomorrow?”
South Putnam brought in another touchdown at the top of the fourth quarter. But even facing a 21-0 spread with only minutes left, Brown County pushed through the hurt, trying for a comeback.
Starting from their 38-yard line, junior Tristen Richards began and ended the drive that would gain Brown County its only points of the game.
After it was all over, Minniear had only praise for how his players performed.
“I was still proud of ’em — I still believe in ’em. I think we can go ahead and do great things going forward,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll ever see a team that size the rest of this year, and I think we can do good things.”
Carter, the freshman quarterback who accounted for the majority of the Eagles’ gains against South Putnam and their win against Edinburgh, stands out as an example on a team with only eight seniors.
“I think he’s growing, he’s learning,” Minniear said. “I’m pleased with what he did, and if he was perfect, I wouldn’t know what to do — I wouldn’t know how to coach him.”
Minniear said he was impressed with how well his team held up against South Putnam.
“We’re still Brown County,” he reminded his players after the game, and that is something they should have pride in.
He told his players to be back in the morning to start going over footage of the game.
“We all learn from tonight, and not just the kids, but the coaches. We all learn,” he said. “And if we don’t, then it’s a wasted game.”
Freshmen: Jordan Oswald, Nicholas Huls, Noah Carter, Alex Baker, Javon Oliphant, Hunter Newsome, Brandon Fleischman, Kenneth Eason, Kameron Fletcher, Kaleb Popp, Cayden Edds, Isaac Weddle, Jacob Frist, Dayden Lucas
Sophomores: Danny Getts, Dylan Carney, Curtis Lookebill, Skylar Fleischman, Griffin Kelly, Bryce Denton, Brandon Leslie, Christian Fouts, Layton Mosier, Cameron King, Corbin Wagers, Robert Perry, Brandon Mulryan, Josh Parry, Dale Phelps, Evan Fleischman, Devon Smith
Juniors: Tristen Richards, Luke Getts, Ben Rygiel, Isiah Keefauver, Alex Carney, Tanner Gredy, Bryce Malan, Chris Leslie, Colten Harper, Braylon Ellis, Justin Burns, Zac Sheppard, Brandon Bailey, Lane Rice, Matthew Duncan, Sam Blackledge, Jarrod Landry
Seniors: Trevor McTarsney, Noah Ryan, Justin Harris, Rayne Kelly, Noah Kelly, Wes Gordon, Baylee Mosier, Jacob Partyka