Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 28, 2012

Pedaling to the Metal

Brewer one of Fairview's lead vocalists

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

WESTWOOD — Adrenaline-pumping electric guitar flowed from the loudspeakers.

The heavy sounds pleasantly greeted Chris Brewer's ears as he charged up for the biggest game of his life.

Then, the 23-second mark of the song hit  … "Let's Go!" A scream lasting seven seconds resounded throughout Fairview Stadium. The juices were officially flowing for Brewer  as he blazed onto the field alongside the rest of the Fairview Eagles during team introductions.

"I've been trying to get them to play that for years," said Brewer, referring to "Tears Don't Fall" by Bullet For My Valentine.

Brewer, a senior fullback/linebacker, didn't play his final high school game on Friday night. That will take place this Friday at noon in Bowling Green, where the state championship is on the line. Fairview and Mayfield kick off the two-day, six-class string of final games.

Few took last year's regional championship game loss to Pikeville harder than Brewer.

Those horrible, lingering feelings caused the normally reserved player to hold a players-only meeting before Nov. 16's regional final at Pikeville this season.

"He kicked all of the coaches out of the locker room," said Fairview coach Nathan McPeek. "He had some stuff to say and wanted to get off his chest. Obviously, it's worked."

Brewer felt the need to alter the pre-game routine, he said.

"Coach talks every week," he said. "I just kind of figured, a different game, let's change it up a little bit. Get something going. I told them about how bad it was (last year) and how emotional I got after we lost. I didn't want to feel that again."

Brewer is the second-leading rusher of the Eagles' three 1,000-yard backs with 1,505 yards on 149 carries — the others are Devon Turner (1,520) and Elijah King (1,331).

Apparently, Brewer has busted through his shell as if it was a helpless linebacker in his path.

"He's still pretty quiet most of the time, but in the moments that something needs to be said, he's said it this year," McPeek said. "Whether it's a one-minute speech, or two minutes, he always has something good to say."

Fairview struggled through the first three weeks of the season, emerging from close games against East Carter (32-17) and Fleming County (21-14). Brewer was pivotal in keeping the Eagles unified, McPeek said.

"He played a crucial role, helped steer the ship in the right direction," McPeek said. "He knew we had a lot of new guys in a lot of new positions, and he knew once those guys settled in, we'd be pretty good."

Brewer's been as consistent in his studies (27 ACT score) as he has on the field (3,952 career rushing yards, 45 TDs).

"The Train," as assistant coach Scott Miller labeled him, refuses to be derailed. In fact, he's gotten stronger and faster through the years.

Tacklers are having a more difficult time catching Brewer when he runs outside this season. However, most of the time the 5-foot-10, 235-pound bruising fullback prefers navigating between the tackles.

Thanks to King's and Turner's exceptional speed, Brewer has enjoyed running through some larger holes this year.

"They help me out by opening up the middle to take people outside," Brewer said. "They also help when they go in motion. Usually the linebackers, sometimes the whole defense, flows one way and I can kind of cut it back."

Between sharing the workload with King and Turner, and being on the right side of a few blowouts, Brewer's carries weren't always numerous. He had fewer than 10 touches five separate times this season.

"I never really look at how many carries I get," Brewer said. "A lot of people could get real selfish, but me, Devon and Elijah, we're not."

Brewer rushed 14 times for 200 yards and two scores against Pikeville before a 22-carry, 120-yard performance in the state semifinal blowout of Hazard.

Several people showered congratulatory messages and pats on the back onto the Eagles following Friday's win.

Annette McPeek, wife of assistant coach/high school principal Garry, hugged Brewer and said, "You deserve this. You deserve this."

Brewer said it hasn't fully sunk in that he and the Eagles are playing for it all this Friday.

"I hope it does when we get there," Brewer said.

If Fairview (14-0) happens to pull it off, it will certainly help Brewer get past those feelings he experienced last November.

A new, refreshing kind of emotion is overcoming him.

Tears may fall.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.