Fox Chapel’s Brown on mission to return team to WPIAL playoffs

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019 | 5:28 PM


Sam Brown is on a mission.

It is two-fold with personal and team goals in mind.

The Fox Chapel senior running back and linebacker received his first Division-I offer last week from Dayton. He expects other offers in the coming months.

Brown also wants to make a major impact in the Foxes’ drive for a return to the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. Fox Chapel, after qualifying for the postseason in 2017, dipped to 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the Northern Conference last year.

“It’s been a long offseason, but we’re ready to go,” Brown said. “There is a lot of talent on this team, and I think we can have a good season.”

Brown said he achieved a goal of packing on 15 pounds of muscle, and he checks in at 200 pounds.

“I gained a lot of strength and power, and I am also a lot faster,” he said. “I worked on my speed and lateral quickness. It about getting up the field — one cut and go.”

Brown said extra evening workouts several times per week with running backs coach John Alerich helped build his running aptitude.

“I knew that if I wanted to separate myself and be the best player on the field, it was something I had to do,” he said.

Brown’s busy summer also included games and open gyms with Fox Chapel’s boys basketball team.

“Sam’s always made a great impression, especially with his work in the weight room,” Alerich said. “He works hard, no matter what he is doing. He’s taken that senior leadership to heart. Not only has he gotten better, he has helped his teammates get better, as well.”

Brown said ups and downs over the past couple of seasons have shaped him into a better person and player.

He began his sophomore season as a starter. He made four tackles and returned kicks in the opener against Mt. Lebanon.

But a right shoulder injury in the game sidelined him for the rest of the season. He had surgery and was forced to watch the Foxes’ run to the WPIAL playoffs from the sideline.

“It was very tough to not be able to play, but I was able to get past that,” Brown said.

He returned to athletic competition six months later and played in Fox Chapel’s PIAA basketball playoff game against Penn Hills.

Brown re-injured the shoulder last summer and was out until Fox Chapel’s second football game against North Hills.

“I was frustrated, but I knew I had to be patient (in recovering),” Brown said.

He turned the frustration into productivity.

Brown led the Foxes in rushing with 530 yards and seven touchdowns on 107 carries. His best game came in a 45-15 nonconference rout of Connellsville, where he achieved season highs in carries (26), rushing yards (154) and touchdowns (four).

Brown tallied 144 yards and two touchdowns in Fox Chapel’s 27-6 conference victory over Hampton.

He also caught 11 passes for 107 yards and a score and capped the season with second-team all-conference honors as a multipurpose back.

Brown added 51 tackles (42 solo), four sacks and an interception.

Brown said his junior-year highlight tape caught the eye of the Dayton coaching staff, including head coach Rick Chamberlin.

“We had been communicating since the start of the summer,” Brown said. “We established a good relationship. I was really excited to receive that offer.

“It brings motivation to work hard every day and to know I can play at the next level. I just have to get ready for it. I just have to keep working hard in every rep every day. How I do in the season and how I get better will make a big difference.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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