Willowridge pins hopes on defense
Among the trophies, photos and paintings that adorn Willowridge football coach Eddie Brister's office is a map of the United States with several multicolored pins sticking from it. The pins allow Brister to keep track of his players who have gone on to play college ball.
Among the 37 pins are one at South Bend, Ind., for Notre Dame wide receiver Mike Miller; one at Los Angeles for Charles Arbuckle, the tight end who played at UCLA and now plays for the New Orleans Saints; and one at Stillwater, Okla., for running back Thurman Thomas, who now plies his trade for the Buffalo Bills.
All great offensive players. But there is a legacy of great defensive players at Willowridge, too.
Players like O.J. Brigance (Rice), Zarak Peters (Texas A&I), Jerry Parks (University of Houston), Tyrone Malone (Texas A&M), Grady Caveness (Texas) and Eric England (Texas A&M) are all Willowridge graduates.
There's a pin for each of them, too.
And that defensive tradition continues with the lightning-and-thunder duo of Otis Grant and Trey Brown, two blue-chip defensive linemen who will have their work cut out for them Friday night when state seventh-ranked Willowridge faces second-ranked Aldine, a team that has beaten the Eagles the last three times the two have met.
Grant, a senior, is the lightning - a physically imposing 6-6 defensive end who has 4.8 speed despite his 250 pounds.
"We put Otis on the defensive left side," Brister said. "He's so tall and has the ability to get his hand up for passes. He's an intimidator."
Brown, who earned all-district honors last year as a sophomore, supplies the thunder.
"Trey is strong and is a great competitor," said defensive line coach Bruce Walsh. "And he's probably about as quick as anybody I've seen on the defensive line. He's hard to keep out on the pass rush and is difficult to block."
At 6 feet, 240 pounds, Brown has the same powerful build as his idol, Chris Zorich of Notre Dame.
"He's the same height as I am, and he plays my position," said Brown, who traded in his old jersey No. 48 to take Zorich's No. 50 this year. "And what he accomplished at his height. ... He was always at a disadvantage."
Brister thinks any comparison to Zorich may be a tad premature right now.
"It's not fair to say Trey is going to be another Zorich, but that's what he'd like to be," Brister said. "And that's a good one to follow. He's a good person and a hard player.