The Tonawanda Warriors know that a playoff berth will be on the line when they roll into Riverside High School Field on Friday night for their Section VI Class B West game against Burgard/MST.
While nobody knows for sure what the final outcome will be, one thing the Warriors know they can count on is getting an all-in effort from running back Brandon Roe.
A senior in his first year with the Warriors, Roe, who tips the scale at 230 pounds is in the mold of the smash-mouth, power back that has been the hallmark of Tonawanda football for as long as anyone can remember. But there is a lot more to Brandon Roe then just plowing up the middle.
“People think I’m just a power back, but I have speed,” Roe modestly stated. “Since I’m 230 everyone thinks I’ll just lower my shoulder or use a stiff-arm a lot. Teams don’t expect me to bounce it out, ever. They usually play inside and think we’re going up the gut a lot.”
Spending the first two years of his varsity football career at Sweet Home High School, Roe, said that ultimately he felt like transferring to Tonawanda High School would present him with a better fit academically and in football.
Though an ankle injury prior to the first day of tryouts delayed Roe’s debut in maroon, once he was cleared he’s been every bit the force on the field that the Warrior coaching staff thought he could be.
Roe used every ounce of his 230 pound frame last Friday when he bulled his way through the Lancers defense for the winning two-point conversion as Tonawanda beat Lewiston-Porter, 22-20, at Clinton H. Small Stadium.
“It was huge,” Roe said of the win. “We were up 14-0, then losing 20-14. We forced the fumble and we came out with the win. It means a lot.”
For months Tonawanda head coach Joe Kelly has been raving about what Roe brings to the table. His football smarts. The way Roe finds a way to gut out a few more yards as multiple players try to bring him down. But Kelly said as time has progressed he has seen more than just Brandon Roe the hard-nosed player. He’s seen Brandon Roe become a more complete player and person.
“The last couple of games, I’m telling ya, he’s changed,” said Kelly.
“He’s matured. He’s becoming a leader and I really see it more and more in different things….He’s given me everything I’ve asked for. He really has. What else can I do? What else can I say?”
Though new to Tonawanda High School, Roe isn’t exactly a stranger to Tonawanda football as he spent a great deal of time with his current Warrior teammates learning the game as kids at Tonawanda Football Clinic.
While some people lead through their words and others by their actions, Roe, by necessity has learned to bring a mix of the two styles to the field to be the kind of leader that Kelly wants, and the Warriors need, Roe to be.
“He’s told me since Day One he wants me to be a leader on this team,” Roe said. “Coming from an A school to a B school I’ve played with bigger kids and faster kids. So I should be leading by example.”
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