BY ROCKY STANLEY
THE DAILY INDEPENENT
Russell's Tucker Brown (35) moves past a teammate during Meet the Devils on Monday evening in Flatwoods.
PHOTOS BY MARTY CONLEY | FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
FLATWOODS Russell football is about family and tradition.
The Brown household in Bellefonte fits the bill as well as any.
Senior offensive guard Tucker Brown has been selected by teammates as one of five Red Devil captains for the upcoming season.
Brown called it an honor. His father, AK Steel plant manager Doug Brown, played on Russell’s first state championship team in 1978. Tucker’s mother, Teresa, is president of the school’s football boosters club. Doug operates the scoreboard and “watches as much game film as the team does,” according to Tucker.
One of the current lineman’s earliest memories of Russell football came at age 5, when he wore his dad’s letterman jacket to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. That day in 2005, the Red Devils defeated Owensboro Catholic for their second state title.
“It (jacket) was all the way to my ankles,” Tucker said. “I guess that’s where it started for me. I grew up listening to my dad and uncle talking about it.”
Doug Brown also coached several future Red Devil greats in Russell JFL and worked as a high school official, including a state championship game.
“Football has always been part of his life,” Tucker said.
Tucker felt a rush when the family moved back to the area from Mason, Ohio, during Christmas break of his seventh-grade year.
He looked forward to the time he could pull on a maroon uniform and follow in his father’s footsteps of playing for revered Ivan Mc-Glone. Instead, former Russell standout T.J. Maynard succeeded him as head coach prior to Brown’s freshman season.
“My uncle (Michael Sansom) played with coach Maynard at Russell, so he was happy for him,” Brown said. “I remember being excited in middle school about playing for coach Mc-Glone ... all the tradition he had built here. But I don’t think I could have a better four years than with coach Maynard. He’s as much a part of Russell football as anybody is.” Brown moved into the starting offensive lineup as a junior and also played some defensive end for last year’s 10-2 team.
This past week, Red Devil seniors took turns addressing their teammates on the final night of team camp — originated by Maynard four years ago.
“Team camp plays a huge part in bringing us together as a team,” Brown said. “We’ve definitely started another season on the right foot.”
Brown stood up and told the current squad it felt like a “blink of an eye” since he listened to former senior standouts like Landon Arnold, Bronson Korzep and Logan Suman doing the same thing.
“They were my heroes my freshman year,” Brown said. “I told the freshmen that it sounds cheesy and cliche, but time really does fly by. I told them to take advantage of every moment and enjoy it.”
Brown wants to do the same his final season as the Red Devils look to contend for the 3A crown.
“My dad was a sophomore when they won it in ’78. He gets on me to win one,” Brown said with a smile. “It’s going to be a little different this year with the playoff road changing. We haven’t forgotten Belfry is the team that put us out the last three years. We see a path to the final and want to see them there.”
Walls in the Red Devils’ locker room are adorned with photos of their past teams that won district, region and state titles.
“The thing about Russell football, a lot of our dads played here,” Brown said. “It’s not hard for players to look up and point out a relative or somebody they know. It’s family.”
Maynard has watched Brown grow as a player.
“He got a lot of experience last season and had a really good year for us,” the coach said. “Tucker really became a leader for us in the weight room during the offseason. His work ethic got stronger, he changed his body and I look for big things from him.”
Maynard described Brown as well-grounded.
“Obviously, with both of Tucker’s parents having graduated from here and all they do for our program, he understands how special Russell football is,” Maynard said. “We are truly thankful for the amount of support we get not only from our parents and boosters, but the school admininstration and businesses in the community.”
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