Heritage junior quarterback Bryan Brosnan is accustomed to the spotlight. As a sophomore, he was a starter on the Pride's varsity basketball team, which drew much attention after improving from 1-21 in 2002-03 to 15-9 last season. But lining up behind center for his first snap in a varsity football game last Friday was a little different
"I was excited, but I was also definitely nervous," Brosnan said. "I knew the game was going to be much faster than I had seen on [junior varsity] last year. But I kept telling myself I had to settle down and just play."
What he did was much more than that. Brosnan set school records for passing yards (243) and touchdowns (3) in his first career start, leading the Pride to a 26-19 overtime victory against Millbrook. It marked the first time in Heritage's three years that the team opened the season with a win.
"Everybody was going crazy after the game," Brosnan said. "It was such a big win for us. It's a great start and gives us some momentum. We're pumped up for this season. We want to be a contender in the district and to be in every game with a chance to win. And this was a great start."
Most impressive about the victory, Coach Wes Driskill said, was the way the team responded to challenges. Millbrook scored first in the game, but Heritage came back with a touchdown. Millbrook went ahead again in the fourth quarter, but Heritage senior Antoine Stinger converted a pass on a fake punt to junior Pierce Bullock late in the game to keep the drive alive. Senior Dan O'Connell then booted a game-tying 24-yard field goal to send the game into overtime, and the Pride won on a 10-yard pass from Brosnan to junior Quinn Tibbs.
"The biggest thing for us in this game [was] that they'd score, and we'd come back and answer," Driskill said. "That's something we haven't always been able to do before. I'm so proud of the way our guys kept their heads in the game and kept working. We made some mistakes, but coming through the way we did leaves a lot more positives than negatives. We just had so many different people making important plays Friday night."
Seniors Matt Buttery and Stephen Laporta stood out on the offensive and defensive lines. Junior Matt Lucas (58 yards rushing) did enough against Millbrook's seven-man front to keep them from cheating in the secondary. Seniors Jonte Johnson and Justin Johnson made heads-up plays at linebacker. And junior Chris Smith, in addition to his four catches, did an exceptional job blocking downfield.
But it was Brosnan and senior wide receiver Chris Hunter -- who caught five passes for 191 yards and turned two short passes into 78- and 62-yard scores -- who topped the list of standouts.
"Bryan had two interceptions, and that showed that he's still inexperienced, but as far as making plays goes he did everything we asked of him," Driskill said. "And that didn't surprise me. Bryan is a very heady player that way. He understands the offense well and can do more things because of that. And I think the experience he's had already with starting on the varsity basketball team and handling that pressure has made him a better football player, too."
Certainly, it seems, a more excited one.
"Basketball has always been my main sport," Brosnan said. "But we'll see how football goes this year. That may have to change."