Cheney Recruits A Leader Marine-To-Be Brasefield A Defensive Stalwart
Most of the defending Frontier League champion Cheney football team is back, but that didn’t keep coach Tom Oswald from looking for a few good men.
He found one in David Brasefield, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior defensive lineman who also happens to be a delayed entrance enlistee in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Brasefield never played football until his family moved to Cheney from California for his sophomore year in high school.
He spent that first season as a third-stringer on junior varsity.
This year the disciplined first-year varsity defensive starter is the Blackhawks’ sack leader and among the team leaders in tackles.
“When he started playing football, he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time,” Oswald recalled. “But he kept getting better and better and the junior varsity coaches said, ‘He can play for you.”’
Statistics mean nothing to Brasefield. However, for the record he has 15 unassisted tackles, including seven sacks for 32 yards in losses, and 13 assists in four games.
Several of those came in handy in a victory over Pullman when Cheney was playing without four starters, suspended because of a house-egging incident.
He’ll be just one more load that East Valley High must deal with when the two teams play on Friday.
All but two members of Cheney’s line gained experience starting for last year’s Frontier winners. Both the Blackhawks and Knights are currently perfect in four games and Cheney’s games have all been decided in the first half.
“It will be a game unlike any we’ve played to date,” said Knights coach Jim Clements. “They are several notches up and the amazing thing is their starters haven’t played two quarters of a game.
“They have a lot of kids back from a team I’ve already seen enough of to last a lifetime.”
Brasefield is one player Clements hasn’t seen, mainly because it took a couple years for Cheney’s coaches to find him.
“The first year admittedly I was really confused about everything,” said the soft-spoken and measured Brasefield. “I’d get in on a few plays (of a junior varsity game) if we were winning by 30 points or so.”
Patience was his virtue. Brasefield realized football was something he wanted to do and was a sport he had time to learn. He attended summer camps and worked his way into the JV starting lineup as a junior, mostly on offense.
“It was a big challenge I set for myself,” he said. “I sort of knew I could do it from the beginning.”
This year there were a couple of varsity line openings and he became a defensive starter.
“It did take a lot of work to get this far,” Brasefield admitted. “I really wanted to play and couldn’t get there by complaining.”
Spoken like a true Marine. He joined the Corps last July in the delayed entrance program because, “It was sort of the varsity team of the armed services.”
Brasefield said that knowing full well his dad was, and a brother currently is, in the Air Force.
Last summer, he and other delayed entrance Marines participated in physical training which he credits with helping him crack the Blackhawks lineup. Following graduation from Cheney in June, he will attend boot camp in San Diego.
“It will be 11 weeks of hell and I’ll probably be surprised,” said Brasefield. “But I think I’m as prepared as I can be as a civilian.”
If the opportunity affords, he said, he would like to try out for the Corps rugby team.
But there’s still plenty of football to be played by the Blackhawks defensive tackle, beginning with Friday’s first-place showdown at home against the Knights.
“We just have to do our best every play. One play can mean the game,” said Brasefield. “I just remember last year how Pullman beat us and we went downhill. We have to keep up the intensity.”
Having him on the field will help.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo