TAMPA — Behind the baby face, the blond tousled hair and the persistent politeness — “Yes sir … No sir … Thank you, sir” — is a warrior.
That's right, don't let Plant High quarterback Colby Brown lure you into believing he can be intimidated, manhandled, or, for that matter, defeated.
Crush his 6-foot-1, 190-pound body into the turf — like Fort Pierce Central did several times in last Friday's Class 8A regional final — and Brown will pick himself up, shake out the cobwebs, and throw a dagger into your heart.
For instance: Trailing by a touchdown, and just one play removed from getting flattened by a linebacker, Brown coldly executed a play called “the throwback screen,” which came with six minutes remaining in the second quarter at the Central 30-yard line. That's when Brown rolled right, bringing the pursuit of the Cobra defense. Plant running back Patrick Brooks sprinted left, snagged Brown's dart and ran free for a touchdown.
A few minutes later, Plant (11-1-1) took a lead it would never give up and won the game, 17-7, earning its sixth trip to the state semifinals in the past eight years.
For Plant wideout/running back Buda Jackson, the Central victory was another example of why you should never give up on Brown.
“Because he's never going to give up on you,” said Jackson, who gets a ride home from Brown every day of the school year. “He cares more about others than he does himself. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met, but because he cares so much, you know he's going to give it everything he can.
“I tell him, 'Don't worry, when you get in trouble on a play, I'll be there for you.' ”
For instance: In the region quarterfinal against Orlando Dr. Phillips, trailing 17-10 with 41 seconds remaining, Dr. Phillips again had Brown scrambling right on a third-down play. Brown checked off one, then two covered receivers, and zipped a pass into the left side of the end zone, where it was snagged by Jackson, who tapped his toes in bounds for a touchdown.
Plant went on to win the game 24-23 in overtime.
“I have confidence in everyone around me,” Brown said. “On the (touchdown play against Dr. Phillips) I saw Buda break free out of the corner of my eye, and when I threw it I knew he was going to get it. I just knew it.”
Tonight at 7:30, Brown will play his last home game at Dad's Stadium against defending Class 8A state champion Apopka (12-1). If the Panthers win, they will travel next week to Orlando to play in their sixth state title game in the past eight years, a place Brown desperately wants to be.
“I want one more week with these guys, because they mean so much to me,” said Brown, who transferred as a sophomore to Plant from Orlando Olympia High when his father changed jobs. “I feel so blessed that I had the chance to come to Plant and play for coach (Robert Weiner).”
Since he arrived, Brown has been in frequent contact with all the Plant state champion quarterbacks who came before him: Robert Marve (2006), Aaron Murray (2008), Phillip Ely (2009) and James Few (2011) either through texts or phone calls or in the case of Marve, direct contact as Marve helps coach the Panthers.
Brown says he thinks about those guys every time he sits in the same locker they all occupied, the one at the left end of the row a few feet from Weiner's door. Every quarterback who has occupied it has his name taped to the back of it.
“It's an honor to be mentioned in that line,” said Brown, whose stats this year are in the same conversation with the aforementioned: 187 completions in 305 attempts for 2,528 yards and 27 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
But right now, Brown says, he's thinking only about wins and losses, or rather two more wins and no losses.
“You might think so, but really I don't feel any outside pressure,” Brown said. “I just want to go out and play my best and help the guys around me get a job done.”
Weiner said that's all he wants as well from his baby-faced quarterback with the quick release.
“We don't want Colby Brown to try and be like (the Plant quarterbacks that came before him) because he isn't those guys,” Weiner said. “Colby has his own personality. His own style. We simply want him to be the best Colby Brown that he can be.
“That's plenty good enough for us.”