Regardless of how or when DuVal All-Met Antoine Brooks returns from the shocking injury he suffered during Monday night’s 42-7 loss at Wise, members of the Lanham community will tell stories about him years from now. They already had begun to through tears while their two-way star lay prone on the field awaiting an ambulance, his right foot taped to a stretcher at an unsightly angle.
Teammates knew right away, sobbing before they could reach the sideline. Brooks’s father bolted onto the field in a blink, anguished upon seeing his son helpless.
Before long, more than 20 coaches, family members and friends surrounded him. The Tigers stood in line on the hash mark until the ambulance arrived to take Brooks to a nearby hospital.
“Y’all can’t see this,” one woman said walking away and warning others.
The best football player in Prince George’s County had just suffered a compound fracture of his ankle, Coach Dameon Powell confirmed, on a freak play no less.
Brooks’s absence, just like his presence before the injury, loomed over the entirety of Monday’s restarted game, which resumed with a scoreless tie in the second quarter after it was postponed because of a Friday night thunderstorm.
And Brooks shined from the opening snap with county supremacy on the line.
On the first play from scrimmage Monday, he flinged a 66-yard touchdown pass to senior DeMarco Seay to give DuVal a 7-0 lead. On the Tigers’ ensuing possession, he ran over a Wise defender for a 12-yard gain and hurdled another one on an 18-yard run.
It put him over 1,200 rushing yards through six games. Brooks, a Division I recruit, also had an end zone interception on defense Friday night to stop another Pumas drive.
But then the game changed. After a penalty on Wise (6-0, 4-0 Prince George’s 4A) negated a Tigers field goal attempt, Brooks rolled toward the sideline on fourth down only to double back across the field. Brooks then threw an interception while being tackled and just “came down on it wrong,” according to Powell.
The stadium went silent, and the game was halted for almost 45 minutes.
“He’s the heartbeat of our team, on and off the field,” Powell said of Brooks. “His spirits was up, but when that happened, I could see everyone with their head down. It was tough to swallow. Momentum was our way, and he’s just one of them types of players.”
The cruelest part came next. DuVal (5-1, 4-1) still had a 7-0 lead coming out of halftime because of Brooks, a quarterback, safety and punter, but the seventh-ranked Tigers missed him all over the field.
Tailback C.J. Rainey finished with 119 rushing yards and a score for the eighth-ranked Pumas.
The Tigers, meanwhile, never could get their fallen captain out of mind. Brooks was gone, a reality that carried implications for everyone.
“It’s a gruesome injury, but we still got to focus on the game,” Rainey said. Brooks “was a big factor of their team, period, and basically we didn’t want to let the injury take us from our game.”