This was going to be the Bearcats’ breakout season.
Before kicking off the 2012 campaign, Brookland-Cayce and second-year coach Rusty Charpia believed this season they could be contenders in Region 5-3A.
Six weeks into the season, despite losing starting quarterback Ezekiel Walker amid a spate of injuries, the Bearcats (1-5, 0-1) still believe.
Charpia said staying upbeat is key to Brookland-Cayce staying on track.
“We hate that Zeke got hurt, but our other guys are playing better and spirits have been high,” he said.
Walker is out for the rest of the season after surgery to his left hand to repair bones broken when it was hit with a helmet during the Dreher game. After posting nearly 700 yards passing in five games, Walker is pushing the Bearcats from the sideline.
“I just want to see this team succeed,” Walker said.
The players on the field are in tune with Walker.
Senior Drew Towery and freshman Kozy Brown are splitting the quarterback duties, and the pair combined for 240 yards passing in the region opener.
“With baseball, I never sat behind anyone, so when it was time for me to go in, I took it as excitement, not as pressure,” said Towery, a starting pitcher for the B-C baseball team. “They prepared all of us as if we were going to have to play any week.”
Brown expected to wait longer for the chance to contribute.
“When it was my time to step up, I knew it was going to be hard, but we both were willing to accept it,” said the freshman.
Brown and Towery are two of many Bearcats shifting roles as Brookland-Cayce has coped with injuries to several team leaders, including linebacker Chris Padgett, who is expected to return this week.
The setbacks have tested the Bearcats’ mental fortitude, and Charpia has met that challenge with optimism.
“Luck has not been on our side this season,” Charpia said.
“The recent football history here has not been very good, but we are still focusing on the small victories, and we’ve been excited about the things that are getting better.”
He noted the Bearcats’ late-game leads in several games as a sign they are close to making their turnaround.
“The wins will come here soon,” Charpia said.
And, although Walker’s play on both sides of the ball was considered a major asset for the Bearcats, the Bearcats are not lowering their expectations.
“We can still do it, we just have to step up even more than we did before,” Towery said.
“We just want to win, that’s all we want, and we don’t care who is playing quarterback,” he said.
Walker added, “Because we’re brothers. When they win, I win.”