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South Rowan’s Brooks looking for big senior season

Senior tackle

South lineman Patrick Brooks 56. photo by Wayne Hinshaw, for the Salisbury Post

 By Marny Hendrick

sports@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — As a rule, offensive linemen get no love. But that is okay by South Rowan senior tackle Patrick Brooks.

Brooks is used to playing in the obscurity of the trenches throughout his high school career and he is very good at what he does for the Raiders. Yet, he fully believes that linemen are the key to a team’s success.

“It is definitely not a glory position,” says Brooks, who is entering his third season as an anchor on the Raiders’ offensive line. “I might be biased, but I think the line (both offense and defense) is the most crucial position if you want to be successful as a team.”

Brooks’ evolution as an offensive lineman started back in the fifth grade when his parents  finally let him play tackle football. His progress culminated last season when he was the lone South Rowan player to make the All-Rowan County first team as a tackle. He wants to continue that success in his senior season, but as he says: “This year, I am looking to lead this team.”

His journey to becoming an outstanding offensive lineman has been a difficult process, by his own admission. Brooks played some O-line at China Grove Middle, but was also a linebacker. After a freshman season at South on the Jayvee team, he became a varsity fixture at offensive tackle as a 10th-grader.

“My sophomore season was kind of tough,” Brooks recalls. “I had to grow up really fast. That year was really like a maturity year. Then, my junior year was more about becoming a better player. I improved my technique and worked out a lot in the off-season, to get stronger, because my sophomore year, I got bullied a lot.”

Now at a solid 6-2, 220 pounds, Brooks is ready to go out with a bang during his final varsity season. He wants it to memorable for many reasons, including the fact that it is his final season playing under his father, veteran South defensive coach Jim Brooks.

South head coach Daniel Yow plans to make sure his star senior lineman gets plenty of opportunity to help the team. “Patrick is the anchor of our offensive line, a three-year starter and all-county,” Yow says. He has now inserted Brooks on the other side of the ball this season as a defensive end, and he has some other plans for Brooks on offense as well.

“Patrick is so versatile, we are looking to make up some different offensive packages this year that will put him more at a tight end spot as well.” Yow said. “It is something we can use as a little wrinkle here and there because we normally don’t run a tight end in our offense.”

Using Brooks on defense as a tight end will help the team, but will also assist him with his future plans. “Patrick is a bit undersized to go play college football as an offensive lineman, but we have a few colleges looking at him as possible tight end.” Yow noted.

Brooks says he would like to play college football somewhere and has drawn some interest from several schools in the region. But if that doesn’t pan out, he says he would love to go to East Carolina University for the academics and the experience. For now, however, his mind is on making the Raiders successful in the newly realigned Central Carolina Conference’s 2A ranks.

“My sophomore year, we were 0-11 … then we won last year (a dramatic last minute victory over Carson) and that took a lot of pressure off us,” Brooks said. “It showed us that if everybody comes together and everybody is contributing and buying into the system, it will pay off for us as a team.”

Brooks feels the 2017 Raiders will be competitive in their new 2A league and hopes to notch a lot more victories than in the recent past. “My sophomore year, we were building for the future,” he says. “So now it is the future. For most of us, on the football field, it is our last shot to be successful in high school — or maybe ever.”

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