There’s always a moment after I take my place on the bleachers and the football team gathers on the sidelines that I feel like this just isn’t right: these young men running out to batter and battle opponents, and me, sitting, watching. There’s this moment when I even feel horrified to watch because it’s like I’m okay with the possibility of injury to these fearless players.
Maybe you’re not like that; maybe you’ve played and the crisp air and marching-band drums massage old muscles, aching to be used—and you don’t think about what could be, but only about what once had been.
Or maybe you’re a player, waiting for your chance to boldly take your own field. Regardless, you and I can probably agree: there’s something extra-human about suiting-up and running out.
Think about what it takes: months of lifting, running, choosing to do things that cause pain, sweat, nausea, disillusionment, disappointment, maybe even ridicule. Players give up time with friends. They give up hours of sleep. Buckets of sweat. Layers of skin.
This is football.
And some players—just a handful in the Morris Sussex area— bring even more to the field, and give even more to their teams and their seasons.
Some players—just a few—have freakish strength, abnormal intensity, and weapons to pull out on fourth-and-longs or down-by-fourteen forth quarters. Some are warriors that can only be described in Marvel terms: they are flying, climbing, energy-producing, armor-wearing guys. Science itself is bent for their use.
One Dover Tiger is this way: he is a superhero to his team and his town, a warrior among fighters with a champion’s focus. He understands that playing for a team with a history of winning state titles means playing with relentless pursuit of one monster goal and the firm belief that it’s attainable.
“I want a state championship,” senior super-stud Dwayne Brown declares.
Dwayne Brown, running back, wide receiver, free safety, accumulated over 570 yards rushing with last year’s game average of over 62 yards, and career total receiving yards of over 540.
Athleticism, drive, confidence, focus. A cool suit of armor.
Dwayne Brown is our Iron Man.
Brown wears jersey #1, even as he started on varsity as a freshman. His first game? He and his Tigers played a three-time championship Madison team that was determined to keep the streak going. And “going” they did: Madison went home with their 26th win that night and a final score of 36-6. “I was nervous for that game,” Brown confesses.
He rallied. And the next year Madison and Dover battled it out again, this time Dover lost a 31-26 back-and-forth brawl in which Brown had 5 receptions for 187 yards, including a twenty-yard gain on fourth and twenty, giving the Tigers ten seconds to score before the end of game, and the Madison defense an epoch story to tell.
Brown’s third year on varsity, Dover opened against Pequannock. Prior to the game, in a pre-season scrimmage against MoHills, Brown practiced at quarterback, assuming the change in position was intended to throw off Pequannock scouts. The Tigers dominated. So, game time against Pequannock, on offense, Coach sent Brown in with the play. “I had no idea I was playing quarterback that game,” Brown said with a laugh.
His coach had noticed: Brown can roll out, throw, run, kick, catch, and tackle. He can juke, shake a defender, and he can get through the traffic. He’s good in space. No one gets behind him. Off the field? He lifts on his own twice a week. He runs routes, does ladders, steps, conditioning—all on his own, and in addition to team workouts. But, he says with a laugh, “I eat whatever’s there.” No special diets needed for this super hero.
Brown is more than athletically talented and mentally disciplined. He describes himself as “laid back” and “quiet” before games, but Morris Sussex’s George Muha witnessed a strong on-field leader during summer practice. “Dwayne was running routes with some of the other guys and if someone didn’t run the right way, Dwayne was all over him—but in a good way, like a leader who wanted the team to do better.” Brown ultimately agrees. He also describes himself as “dedicated” and “competitive” and he has this one goal.
“I want a state championship—bad,” Brown explains.
Brown also talks about playing in college, but this two-sport superstar hasn’t decided between basketball and football. For now, he’s all about this season. And, for now, he’s healthy, fired up, focused and ready.
Watch out Pequannock. On September 11, Brown’s senior-season opener, he’s bringing the party to you.
Graphic by Chris Redstone