News Sports Reporter
Tyree Brown plans to major in sports management when he goes to college. ¶ If by chance the South Park quarterback wants to tackle another interest on the side, though, perhaps a minor in history would be the way to go. The senior has already shown most people in this area he has a gift for making it. ¶ The Sparks have run out of football games to play, but that did not stop Brown from making more history during a week where the primary team activity on the calendar has been basking in the glow of being a state champion. South Park’s electrifying playmaker and on-field leader is the runaway choice as Buffalo News Player of the Year. ¶ Of course, the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder’s selection is historic. Brown is the first quarterback from a Buffalo
Public School to earn the News’ Player of the Year honor since it began handing out the distinction in 1977.
Think that’s impressive?
He is just the second player from a city school to earn News Player of the Year honors, joining former Grover Cleveland star Teddy McDuffie (1992). Brown also is just the third quarterback from a city public school to earn first team All-Western New York honors. David Boyd of Lafayette in 1971 (Courier-Express’ All-WNY team) and Darmel Whitfield of Seneca in 2000 are the others.
Brown, whose Division I suitors include Rhode Island, Central Connecticut, University at Buffalo, University of Texas El Paso and Stony Brook, beat out several tremendous talents for Player of the Year. Others under consideration included two-time All-Western New York first team selections Terrell Ford of Kenmore West and Isaiah McDuffie of Bennett.
“This means a lot,” Brown said. “All of this recognition, it feels good for the city of Buffalo to get this type of exposure. … It’s an honor,” being selected.
“It’s really an honor to make first team. A lot of kids don’t even get to do that so I’m really honored.”
Brown headlines the 58th edition of the All-Western New York team, as selected by The News in conjunction with Prep Talk Awards Hall of Famer Dick Gallagher and other trusted area coaches. In a year in which several quarterbacks put up some great numbers (St. Francis’ Jerry Hickson became the Monsignor Martin Association’s career passing leader with 5,528 yards), Brown put up those along with the most impressive performances.
Brown set school records for passing yards in a season (2,615), passing touchdowns in a season (30) and passing yards in a single game (368). He also matched South Park’s record for career passing touchdowns (47), needing just two seasons to do what co-record holder Maurice Howie did in three. He matched the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season (22) and was one long touchdown run at the Carrier Dome, which was called back via penalty, from breaking the school’s single-season rushing mark. Brown rushed for 1,370 yards on 122 carries, missing the mark set by Carlos Spencer in 1996 by a mere 27 yards.
Brown’s combined passing and rushing total of 3,985 yards ranks just behind past News Player of the Year Chad Kelly’s 4,062 in 2011. Jake Sisson, the 2013 News Player of the Year, finished with 3,907 combined yards that season but tallied five more total touchdowns than Brown (57-52). Kelly had 41 TDs.
Statistical comparisons aside, Brown may have set a record for the number of oohs and ahhs generated by fans, players and media members watching him make plays for the Sparks.
He made a lot of them, embarrassing many defenders who tried to tackle him in open space only to wind up grasping at air. There were times when defenders thought they had Brown corralled only to discover, the hard way, they were not strong enough to bring down the powerful runner.
Then there’s the rocket arm, the one that makes 50-yard throws down field look as effortless as a 10-yard sideline route.
Let the record show that Brown can throw screen passes, quick slants and sideline routes. But his arm coupled with two reliable, hard-to-cover deep threats in fellow first team picks David Thomas and Daryl Moore meant go-routes were all the rage in South Park’s offense. Despite the high number of hard-to-complete downfield throws, Brown still hit his targets most of the time, finishing with a completion percentage of 51.3.
“I truly cannot say enough about Ty’s performance,” Sparks coach Tim Delaney said. “One of the best players I’ve ever coached. ... He’s an exceptional player and he got to play with some other exceptional players on a great football team.”
While one player doesn’t make a championship outfit, that player can be the ultimate difference-maker on a team with the goods to make a run. Brown showed that throughout a Sparks postseason in which they scored at least 40 points in five of six games.
Brown and company first made history during South Park’s 54-30 triumph over West Seneca East to become the first former Harvard Cup member to win a Section VI football championship. In perhaps the finest quarterback performance at The Ralph this season, Brown completed 14 of 19 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 76 yards and two scores as South Park matched the Ralph Wilson Stadium record for most points in a Section VI final.
In the Class A Far West Regional, the Sparks only scored 20 points, but that was more than enough with Brown helping them set the tone on an impressive game-opening 90-yard, eight-play drive in which he completed 3 of 3 passes and rushed four times for 51 yards, including one of his patented, jaw-dropping, ankle-breaking 25-plus-yard runs.
The historic ride continued when Brown passed for 203 yards, including a game-breaking 70-yard touchdown pass to Thomas on third and 15 late in the third quarter, and rushed for 103 and two scores in South Park’s state semifinal win over four-time defending state champion Maine-Endwell. Brown also intercepted two passes as the 43-26 triumph in Cicero ended the Spartans’ state record 62-game winning streak.
If people downstate hadn’t heard of Brown after that win, they most definitely did after his six-touchdown, MVP performance in the 49-46 state title-game win over Our Lady of Lourdes at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
After a shaky first quarter, Brown was pretty much unstoppable in guiding an offense that needed just 45 plays to amass 517 yards. Brown rushed for 211 and touchdowns covering 63, 27, 38 and 44 yards as his cutting ability, speed and power most definitely caught the eyes of college suitors in attendance. He passed for 140 yards on seven completions, including touchdown passes of 40 and 57 yards to Moore.
He also finished second on the team in tackles that game with 11 as he added full-time safety duties in the biggest game in South Park history. He got slowed by a third-quarter leg cramp after a 13-yard run but missed only two plays, handed off on his first play back and then showed everyone he’s fine on the next when he jetted around left end for a 38-yard score in which he broke two tackles.
“I had to get right back in for my team, keep fighting,” Brown said after that game. “That’s what quarterbacks are supposed to do, lead the team.”
Brown certainly did that, guiding the Sparks into the history books.