Trinity continues march to state title match after Brown injures knee

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; His knee doesn’t really hurt that much now.

It’s pride and heart that’s really got Chase Brown in pain.

It’s the pain of watching his teammates out there competing for a state championship and not being able to help them. It’s the pain of not fulfilling that dream of being the best in the state your senior season after working hard every year to get to that point.

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It’s the pain of not being able to put the knee injury behind him.

Fortunately, the Trinity Episcopal standout is doing all he can to remain active in the program and the team’s shot at winning a second state title in three years on Thursday against Heidelberg Academy. He’s also weighing options on what road he’ll take following graduation and Friday’s surgery to repair a torn ACL.

But here in championship week, it’s tough to sit and not play.

&uot;It’s pretty tough, being this is what we’ve been working for since the sixth or seventh grade,&uot; Brown said Tuesday. &uot;It’s tough to watch. It’s really tough being at games, just watching and knowing you can’t do anything to help and get out there. I’m just kind of ready for surgery and to progress back to where I was.&uot;

The point Brown was at prior to the injury was a main cog in the Saints’ attack at both running back and safety. Brown was one of the three feature backs in the offense along with Gregory and Walt Ketchings, and Brown was the back that had both power and speed while running the ball.

He was showing that talent in the team’s regular season finale against Wilkinson County Christian Academy when he hurt that knee. He broke an 18-yard run up the middle and tried to put a move on a defensive back when things went awry.

He came off the field for a spell, went back in and hurt it again on his first run.

That run ended up being the last of his high school career.

&uot;When I got the ball the first time, I broke a run up the middle and there was one guy left to beat,&uot; Brown said. &uot;When I planted to go one way, it kind of collapsed. When I came over to the sideline, the trainer went through everything, got me running around and said it was all right. I went back in, and I did the same thing.&uot;

His injury sent a shock wave of sorts through the team, and the team had to shuffle its lineup around his injury. That put more of the offensive responsibilities on the Ketchings boys running the ball, and it put Ryan Rachal at safety &045; a position he never really played since Brown had started at the position since he was in the ninth grade.

Brown was also a go-to guy of sorts for the team, and the players and coaches responded by putting his number 3 on the backs of their helmets, the coaches’ visors and inside the fleur-de-lis painted at midfield.

&uot;That’s my boy,&uot; Gregory Ketchings said. &uot;I’ve been playing with Chase since I was in the fourth grade. When I get a little winded, I think of him. We’re playing the season for him. It’s all for him. He’s definitely an inspiration to go on. We’re doing it for him.&uot;

At one point Rachal and Brown changed jerseys during the playoffs. It was against Glenbrook when Rachal, who normally wears No. 11, took the field wearing No. 3 with Brown sporting Rachal’s No. 11 on the sideline.

&uot;We talked about it earlier in the week,&uot; Rachal said. &uot;Me and Chase are friends, and I just wore it. I’m sure (not playing) bothers him, but he still comes out there every day and watches us. I know it kills him, but he’s out there supporting us.&uot;

Brown will have his knee operated on Friday in Baton Rouge, and he’ll be out of basketball this year, too, where his presence as the team’s starting point guard will be missed as well.

The future, however, appears bright provided he’ll recover well from surgery. He has received offers to play for Ivy League schools Yale, Princeton, Harvard and Brown, and he took a trip up to visit Yale in New Haven, Conn., two weeks ago and watched the Bulldogs take on Brown.

&uot;It was kind of an old stadium, and it was kind of neat,&uot; Brown said. &uot;It was a pretty good game. After the game we met up with the coaches and took a tour of the athletic facilities, the practice facilities, the weight rooms and the locker rooms. All of it was real nice &045; some of the nicest I’ve seen. They’re waiting to see how my surgery goes right n now.&uot;

The decision on college, however, is far from being decided, he said. There are other options close to home, including offers to walk on at Southern Miss or Louisiana-Lafayette, and Brown admitted &uot;it’s a different world up there&uot; when you start talking about playing football in the northeast.

But for now, it’s all about the championship game and being as much a part of it as he can. He’ll be on the sideline Thursday in his jersey, jeans and a cap doing the best he can to keep the team striving for its goal.

He’ll be especially cheering on the guys he’s been with seemingly forever &045; Walt and Gregory Ketchings, Rachal, Tres Atkins and Ivan Nastally.

&uot;When you get to a state championship, everybody is playing their hardest,&uot; Brown said. &uot;We’ve all been playing together for quite a while. Five or six of us have been playing together since pee-wee football. This is what our goal has been ever since then, and I think everybody will be fired up. Everybody knows we’ve got a senior team, and the seniors know they’ve got one last shot at it.&uot;