Friday, October 09, 2009
EFL Press Coverage October 9, 2009
MORE THAN A GAME
GRATEFUL LINEMAN: Red and Black's Brown has taken long road back
By MATT CORDOVA
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2009
COLLEEN WHITE N WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
Watertown Red and Black offensive lineman Aaron Brown has played the entire season despite being diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
If Aaron Brown appears to be=2 0soaking up the championship atmosphere a bit more than other players Saturday night, that's because he probably is.
Brown doesn't know yet if he'll end his 11th season with the Watertown Red and Black as a champion. But he's fortunate to have the chance. Thankful to still be playing football. Lucky to be alive.
It was an eventful year for the veteran offensive lineman, who along with his teammates, will conclude the Empire Football League season by hosting Plattsburgh for the title game.
A Queens native, Brown was diagnosed this spring as a Type II, insulin dependent, diabetic. The news hit him nearly as hard as a Red and Black running back hitting the holes he helps create.
The condition is under control now, but on the day he showed up at the hospital with a blood-sugar level of 984, the only thing certain was that he should have sought medical attention days earlier.
Playing on the line, Brown knows that no battle on the field is more intense, or breeds more mutual respect, than the one between offensive and defensive linemen. So he remained humble as opponents, game after game, complimented his new-found quickness and trimmer waist line.
"Guys I've played against for years have come up to me saying I look better, and move a little faster," Brown said. "But they really don't know the whole story."
It's actually quite a tale.
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Brown and his teammates began preparing for this championship chase long before the fields at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds were snow-free. But as the first outdoor practice loomed, the hours in the gym weren't producing desired results. In fact, Brown felt weaker.
He figured the flu was responsible for the unsuccessful workouts in which he strained through so much, only to accomplish so little. Still, Brown overlooked his symptoms for days.
"When we did our combine, he'd do the sprints," head coach George Ashcraft said. "But couldn't do anything else. He was just depleted."
Running back Anthony Noel's phone rang a day after the offense ran a series of drills on the indoor fields at the Fairgrounds YMCA. Brown struggled all day to wake up, yet managed to finally dial.
It was likely the most important call Noel had ever answered.
"I said, 'Please, stop whatever you're doing and take me to the hospital,'" Bro wn recalled of that call to Noel. "I pretty much passed out in the waiting room. They did their tests and when my sugar came back so high, they said I should have been dead or in a coma. They couldn't understand how I was able to get myself to the hospital."
He actually didn't. Noel, in somewhat of a reversal of roles between a lineman and runner, had to practically carry Brown through the emergency room doors.
"He was zombie-like," Noel said. "I had told him a couple days prior to get checked out. I literally had to help him into the hospital."
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Normal blood-sugar levels normal should fall between 70-150. Brown's was nearly nine times that, so he knew that after more than a week in the hospital, his life would greatly change.
He learned he'd have to inject himself with insulin shots two or three times per day for the rest of his life — not good news for a person, who, admittedly, "hates needles."
Plus, weight loss was mandatory, as was cutting out sugary and fatty foods.
"Pretty much all the things I didn't want to do," Brown said.
But much like an opposing defensive end, diabetes didn't stand much of a chance of beating Brown.
He's dropped 30 pounds since Noel dragged him to the emergency room. And he's changed his diet enough, and taken enough control over his own body that he doesn't require those dreaded insulin shots anymore. Diet now dictates Brown's blood-sugar levels, and even he was surprised by the rapid recovery.
"It's a life-changing thing, but I can't say it was hard, because It's easy to say you want to live," he said.
Striving to secure Watertown's first EFL title in 29 years was a motivator, too.
"There wasn't a day in the hospital that one of my coaches or teammates didn't come in," Brown said. "It made things easier, and made we want to get back on the field with these guys."
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Brown returned to the field in July, traveling to France for an exhibition game and representing Team U.S.A in a 35-12 victory.
And since then he's helped clear the way for the Red and Black to rack up 2,618 rushing yards — by far the EFL's best team total.
But Brown doesn't have to prove himself to anyone in the organization anymore, Ashcraft said.
"He's been a first-team,all-star eight or nine times in 11 years in the league. He's done his job," the coach said.
"He's noticeably blocking do wn the field more this year," the Red and Black's leading rusher said. "Not to say he hasn't been down there in the past years. You can always count on the downfield blocks from Aaron Brown."
Brown said he plans to begin his regular offseason training program a few weeks from now. That's when he'll finally see if his body can handle the strain of the workouts it rejected last winter and spring.
"I feel like I'll be able to make progress when I get back into the gym on a daily basis," he said. "I know I won't be getting weaker daily, like I was."
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EFL Championship Game Webcast This Saturday, October 10
Take part in a history making broadcast as we reach out internationally via a live internet broadcast of the Watertown Red & Black vs. Plattsburgh North Stars football game.
(Vocus/PRWEB ) October 9, 2009 -- Take part in a history making broadcast as we reach out internationally via a live internet broadcast of the Watertown Red & Black vs. Plattsburgh North Stars football game.
The Watertown Red &20Black vs. Plattsburgh North Stars EFL Championship game will be available via audio webcast (podcast) at 7:30pm Saturday, October 10th at the following links:
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Titans eliminated by Plattsburgh
Le Soleil de Châteauguay - 7 octobre 2009
The Quebec Titans will not repeat as Empire Football League champions. On a rainy night in Chateauguay last Saturday, the Titans lost their sudden-death semi-final encounter with Plattsburgh North Stars 22-19 in overtime at LPP.
The North Stars won on a blocked kick and 19-yard field goal after the Titans had missed a potential game-winning convert by Andrew Blevings with 30 seconds left in regulation time. A 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin Wyeth to Marvin Joseph had drawn the Titans even.
Frankie Deslandes, with a 70-yard interception return down the sideline, a nd Shawn Harkes on a five-yard run, accounted for the Titans' other majors. A nifty runback by Zan Symonds set up the second touchdown.
But the specialty teams were the difference as Plattsburgh blocked two converts and two punts. "Our special teams lost it for us," said Titans' head coach John Mouland. "And since I am also the special teams coach, I must take part of the responsibility for that.
"Lack of special teams practice killed us all year along," Mouland said. "But, of course, practising only once a week did not help us any. Maybe we were overconfident."
The injury factor was a key to the loss as well, as at least four Titans went down. Peter Kassotis broke his leg early in the contest, and he was followed to the sidelines by Greg Cl arke, Bobby Perkins and Kim Hoyte.
The North Stars meet Watertown Silver & Black for all the marbles this Saturday in Watertown.
FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Titans' Lorne Isaacs (18) puts hit on Plattsburgh ball-carrier. - Photo Andrew Clark
Marvin Joseph (19) scored on 27-yard toss from Kevin Wyeth with 3 0 seconds of regulation time remaining. - Photo Andrew Clark