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PART TWO Brennan Frost and Family – Busting Odds and Breaking the Mold
A Purple and Gold Pigskin Special Report
Previously: Part One
Part Two: A short journey from scrub to star
Written by Kevin Hulten/photo by Rob Carlson
Entering his sophomore year, Brennan Frost had never seen a football game. Thus, the first game Brennan played in for LSHS was also the first full football contest he had ever experienced, in person or otherwise. It wasn’t because he disliked the sport, the Frosts just weren’t a football family.
Frost came to football by chance. One of Frost’s friends had violated the athletic code prior to the season, and was facing a grueling 21-day penance of on field workouts. Frost didn’t want him to go through it alone, so he joined too. So began his football career.
When Brennan’s parents attended his first football game, other fans and parents were shocked to see the Frosts in the stands.
“Brennan’s playing football? What position is he playing?”
The Frosts looked at each other and realized they had no idea what position their son was playing.
The neighboring fan tried again “What number is Brennan?”
What number? Again, no idea. Evidently, Brennan and his family would learn the game together.
Meanwhile, Brennan was finding his place on the field as a raw and inexperienced sophomore.
“We noticed his athleticism, but oh man he was a project. He couldn’t catch, and he didn’t know how to stick his foot in the ground. He could go north-south really well, but he didn’t have any baseline understanding of the game,” said Coach Tom Tri. Tri hoped that at best, his staff could mold Frost’s raw energy into a special teams player, or perhaps a defender who wasn’t required to catch the ball.
At the time, the team needed a kicker, and Brennan, an accomplished soccer player, was up for the task.
“At the beginning he was just the kickoff guy. He didn’t even know how to yell ‘ready go’, he didn’t even know how far away from the ball to lineup. He was two yards away, then he was ten yards away,” Tri remembered.
A Frustrating Beginning
Brennan Frost is one of those people who are naturally great at pretty much anything. He was a precocious and energetic child, or, as older brother Riley Poor put it - “He was psychotic as a child! Full of energy, running around. My mom was always reading those books like ‘How to Raise Your Spirited Child’…”
Brennan and Riley took up wakeboarding as kids, and they both received professional sponsorship on the same day. Riley was 14, and Brennan was six.
Wakeboarding was far from Brennan’s only talent: he basically taught himself to play guitar, piano and drums. He finished sixth in state in the high jump last year, and has run the 100 yard dash in a blistering 11.2 seconds.
So maybe it was a shock to Brennan that he found himself standing on the sidelines for most of his sophomore year.
“Looking back, I’m pretty sure I hated football,” Brennan said last week.
Life for a non-starting player in high school football is kinda like the life of a soldier. Long periods of nothing happening followed by brief, terrifyingly violent encounters. The coaches noticed Frost’s speed, and they developed one play for him: pitch left and run like hell for the edge.
Frost saw a little game action on the sophomore team, and lettered on varsity as a kicker. It was just enough to bring him back for his junior year.
Frost Gets the Call
Bo Dickinson, the 2008 Vikings’ star senior running back, stood on the sidelines at practice in street clothes, recovering from cracked vertebrae in his back. Bo didn’t like what he was seeing from the scout team running back.
The scout team’s job is to simulate the offense of the upcoming opponent, and the next opponent featured a speedy all conference running back.
The Viking defense was feasting on the scout team’s ponderous running back, and this pissed Dickinson off for two reasons. One, he wanted the defense to be prepared on Friday; and two, he knew just the guy to tune up the Viking defense. But said guy was off in the wastelands of practice, relegated to below scout team status, pretending to be a wide receiver even though everyone knew the coaches thought he couldn’t catch a ball to save his life.
So Dickinson decided to do something about it. He approached Coach Tri and said, “Hey – let’s get Frosty back there.”
Coach Tri was skeptical. “I thought, ‘Frost doesn’t like contact, he’s not gonna want to do something like that.’”
Bo went over and told Frost about the coach’s doubts.
Frost marched right over to Tri and demanded an opportunity. Tri conceded, “I’ll give you your shot, go for it, do your thing,” he told Frost – but with a caveat: “There’s eleven guys over there, and they are gonna try and getcha. We’d love to have you, love that you’re fast and can simulate speed for us, but you better lower your shoulder and go hard, because these guys are going to come at you.”
First play: Outside run. “Woah,” thought Tri, “He’s got speed to get to the edge.”
Second play: Frost debuted a nasty spin move, and left a defender in his wake.
Third play: “Now, the defensive coordinator is pissed off. He’s yelling at his guys because Frost is running all over the place. And meanwhile, I’m thinking that we might need to try and get the ball in this guy’s hands a little bit.”
Sure enough, Tri developed a few simple run plays for Frost. On the Vikings’ first play at Snohomish in week nine of last season, Frost took the handoff, running parallel to the line of scrimmage on a fly sweep. He turned the corner on the Panther defenders and picked up a first down, to the delight of Dickinson, Tri and his teammates.
“After having some success (against the scout team), I had some confidence in what I was doing, and I loved the rush of contact,” Frost said.
Ultimately, the Vikings lost the next week at Rogers, and the season was over. But Frost’s improvement was not lost on the coaching staff. However, the Vikes had a problem: too much talent on offense. Because Tri was concerned about Frost’s hands, wide receiver was out. And junior-to-be Duke Dolphin, the team’s best all-around player, had locked down the running back position with an excellent sophomore season.
Contrary to what the schedule says, high school football is a year round sport. Coaches are fond of saying that the next season begins the first day after the current season ends. Voluntary (read: mandatory) weight room sessions, agility training, spring combines, summer camps, fall training camp, etc.
As part of this year round campaign, Tri took his Vikings to Central Washington University last summer to polish up skills and compete against area teams in an informal camp setting. Tri was increasingly impressed by Frost’s performance and was striving to carve out a role for Frost. Tri considered moving Dolphin to quarterback, lined up next to Frost in a shotgun formation known as the Wildcat, but Dolphin lacked the arm to complete downfield passes.
Ultimately, Tri settled on a plan to shift Dolphin to slot receiver for portions of the game in order to get Frost snaps at running back. This move, Tri reasoned, would allow the Vikes to rotate their key skill players and allow them some rest in order to be productive on defense (most Vikings are two-way players).
This plan fell apart when Duke Dolphin shattered his knee the week before the season opener. Suddenly, the untested kicker-turned scout team back was the opening day starting running back.
“I felt my stomach just drop when Duke went down. Not just because of his injury, but because I knew I was going to have to run the ball,” Frost said.
However, Frost was given no indication that he would be the starter as the season opener approached.
While the coaching staff was scrambling to make adjustments, Frost had other thoughts on his mind.
Coming soon: Part three