By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports
Most football folk will tell you it’s a simple game, really: block and tackle.
Brooks Brossette, a senior linebacker who’ll finish his career in the Top 4 on the all-time career tackles list at C.E. Byrd, talks as if he believes that.
The secret to tackling people?
“Hit ’em hard as you can,” he said. “Wrap up.”
And there you go. Not rocket science. Just basic football science.
Brossette and his buddies will have plenty of chances to practice tackling tonight at 7 at Lee Hedges Stadium when the No. 6-seed Yellow Jackets, 7-3, face No.22-seed Alexandria Senior High, 5-6, in the regional round of LHSAA’s Select Division I Playoffs.
“They’ll try to run off-tackle against us, gut plays, try to establish that early,” Brossette said. “If we can shut that down and get our offense on the field, we’ll be good.”
Brossette knows something about good, as his 204 career tackles illustrate. This season, he leads Byrd with 16 tackles for loss, six more than he got last year when the Yellow Jackets went 9-2 and he became not only a starter, but an All City and All District selection.
“Salt-of-the-earth kid,” Jerry Byrd, former Byrd and Louisiana Tech lineman and current Byrd High assistant principal, said. “A leader. All his teammates love him. And not just in football, but baseball too.”
Byrd’s football linebacker is also Byrd’s baseball centerfielder.
“He makes plays that coming off the bat you think, ‘That’s in the gap and will be extra bases,’” said “Voice of the Yellow Jackets” Charlie Cavell. “Then the next thing you know, there’s Brooks, running it down and making some spectacular diving catch and you just shake your head, smile and say, ‘I’m sure glad he’s on our team.’”
And that’s the secret, besides hitting hard and wrapping up: speed. Brossette has it.
“Speed, his instincts and the intense competitive edge he plays with,” Cavell said. “That’s what separates him from being a good high school player to being a great one. He has that intangible drive that all great linebackers have.”
While on the subject of intangibles, don’t let the 5-6 ASH record deceive: three of ASH’s six losses came to two No. 1 seeds (Ruston and St. Thomas More) and a No. 8 seed (Carencro). ASH’s playoff win against No. 11-seed McKinley was a taking-candy-from-a-baby 42-0.
Tonight’s challenge for Byrd includes being successful running against a stout Trojan defensive front and containing an ASH team that has a formidable passing game led by quarterback Joe Bordelon. Byrd faltered against high-powered passing attacks in the regular season. See losses to Benton (68-28) and Airline (48-28).
And keep in mind that ASH’s head coach is Thomas Bachman, who coached pass-happy Evangel to a state championship. Brossette and his teammates would do well to keep Bordelon uncomfortable if Byrd head coach and Yellow Jacket lifer Stacy Ballew, in his second year as head coach and his 26th at the school, is to get his first playoff win as head man.
If things get really dicey, Ballew could always put his All-City linebacker in at the only other position Brossette would like to play.
“Running back, scoring touchdowns,” Brossette said. “I should have asked (Ballew) a couple of games ago. But he wouldn’t let me now. I think he likes me at linebacker too much.”
Contact Teddy at firstname.lastname@example.org
22-Alexandria (5-6) at 6-Byrd (7-3)
Where: Lee Hedges Stadium
Series: First meeting
Last week: Alexandria beat McKinley 42-0; Byrd had a bye
All-time playoff record: Alexandria 13-30; Byrd 33-31-2
Radio: Byrd (The Tiger 1130 AM, 103.3 FM)
Notables: This is the first-ever meeting between C.E. Byrd and ASH … Both Byrd and ASH played in the 2020 LHSAA State Championships in Natchitoches. Byrd lost to Catholic before the Jackets ended up with the trophy when the Bears were forced to forfeit several games including their 35-12 win against the Jackets. Acadiana beat ASH 35-34 in an overtime thriller … After losing 45-14 in their second-round playoff game to Brother Martin in 2021, Byrd head coach Stacy Ballew is looking for his first playoff win since taking over the program.