Work ethic carries North County News Athlete of the Year

Austin Brown says he may not have been the fastest or best player on the Hereford football or lacrosse teams as a senior.

But few of his teammates outworked Brown on or off the field.

"He gets every ounce out of his talent," Hereford boys lacrosse coach Brian King said. "He would do things the right way. He is one of the hardest workers in the weight room and when it came to film and diet. He would carry around a jug of water and a protein shake."

The Bulls' coaches also raved about the leadership abilities displayed by the 2012 North County News Athlete of the Year.

Brown, who King called the 'Little General,' co-captained both the football and lacrosse teams.

"Leadership is my best quality," Brown explained. "I just kept our defense together. I knew what to do. My teammates starting calling me 'Coach A. Brown.'"

But Brown's athletic ability is not to be overlooked, either. He will play football this fall at Salisbury University, where he plans to major in exercise science after carrying a 3.5 grade point average in high school.

The 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker led the Bulls in tackles (64), tackles for loss (9.5) and ranked second in sacks (6) to earn first-team All-County honorable mention and all-state honors. He also had an interception and forced a fumble.

"He has a knack for the football and is always running to it," Salisbury linebacker's coach Jacquis McCrary said. "He plays linebacker, which is a big, physical, hard hitting position. He has that, but also brings athleticism to the table. His biggest asset is his athleticism."

Brown turned in some standout performances.

He racked up six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in a 26-6 victory over Eastern Tech on Sept. 26, and two weeks earlier, finished with 10 tackles, two sacks and an interception in a 42-0 whitewashing of Woodlawn.

The 18-year-old Brown studied film on opponents as much as the Hereford coaches did. He even watched football tapes during a free period in the school day.

And it all paid off on the field for Brown.

"I liked his football savvy," Hereford football coach Steve Turnbaugh said. "He could digest a play. He had good instincts and was a student of the game. He knew the other team's tendencies and, through playing smart, he knew where to be at the right time. I think he will be a very good coach someday."

Brown agrees.

"I could coach anything, basically," he said. "I do a good job of picking up people around me and making people around me better."

Brown wasn't just a valuable linebacker for the Bulls. Turnbaugh expanded his duties, starting him at fullback.

Brown, who played five years in the Hereford rec program before joining the junior varsity as a freshman, made a smooth transition to the position.

The only other offensive position he played in high school was quarterback on the jayvee level.

"He made our backfield complete, having him back there," the coach said. "He did well. In the Baltimore Touchdown Club (All-Star) game, he made that team as a linebacker. But in short-yardage situations, they put him in at fullback and he scored two touchdowns."

On the lacrosse field, Brown, a defenseman, started two years for the Bulls, who have won five straight Class 3A-2A state championships.

Besides filling a valuable leadership role, Brown also gave Hereford some excellent size on the backline.

Brown has more experience playing lacrosse than football, competing in the Hereford rec program for nine years, prior to Hereford.

"He was our physical guy," King said. "He was steady. He was everything you wanted out of your senior leader there. He is kind of like the glue guy. He kept everything in line."

Brown turned in one of the biggest plays of the year to help Hereford surprise Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference foe St. Paul's in overtime, 11-10, on March 27.

He picked off a pass near the Crusaders' goal in the final minute and sprinted downfield to set up Joe Seider's winning goal.

"I kind of won the game for us," Brown said. "I intercepted it, ran 50 yards, passed the ball off and we scored right away."

King added about Brown's play, "It's kind of what you dream about. It was a heck of a play. It was awesome."

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