Brown's value equal on offense, defense for East Allegheny
Two-way centerpiece Taizjon Brown said Thursday he hopes to lead East Allegheny to a prominent place in WPIAL Class AA this football season, but he doesn't want to go it alone.
“People aren't talking about us, but we have a lot of talent,” said Brown, a running back and middle linebacker who led the team in rushing and tackles a year ago. “We're going to show that East Allegheny has players who can get the job done.”
Brown and the Wildcats should learn a lot about themselves in a hurry. They were realigned into the Century Conference after three years as a member of the Allegheny Conference. They'll open the 2014 season Aug. 29 at South Fayette, the reigning WPIAL and PIAA champion.
“The first goal is to beat South Fayette,” Brown said. “This year, we've got the players to do it.”
South Fayette, which has won the past two Century championships, returns quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, who passed for a WPIAL-record 3,726 yards in leading the Lions to a 16-0 mark in 2013.
Brown, as a junior, was just short of 1,000 yards rushing, and East Allegheny went 5-5 in coach Dom Pecora's first year for a noticeable upgrade of the previous season's 1-8 mark.
Brown is optimistic that, despite a tougher schedule, the Wildcats will make a run at their first postseason appearance since 2011.
It could take a bit of an adjustment from last season, when quarterback Kyle Whipple passed for nearly 1,600 yards. Pecora is expected to lean more heavily on a running game with first-year quarterback Deon Smith at the helm.
Smith, a junior, was handed the job after leading the EA junior varsity team to a 7-1 record.
“We've put some new wrinkles in this year. I'm excited to see how we do,” Pecora said. “Deon has gotten a pretty good grasp of this offense, so we'll see.”
Brown and junior Rod Jones will be the primary running backs in East Allegheny's triple-option attack, where Pecora hopes Smith's athleticism will stand out.
But it will be the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Brown who will be featured on offense.
“I've been thinking about this year a lot,” he said. “I did a lot of work this offseason. I worked on getting faster and stronger.”
Brown also exceeded 100 tackles while patrolling the center of the East Allegheny defense in 2013, and he'll also be counted on heavily to lead that unit again.
“It helps to have leadership from your best player,” Pecora said. “Taizjon is never not around the ball. He's capable of 100 yards rushing and 20 tackles a game.”
Brown likes the support from his coach, and he thinks his teammates will rally around it.
“We've worked hard as a team,” he said.
“I don't think it's pressure that we feel as much as anticipation. We're taking an attitude that if you don't push yourself, you're not going to get to the finish line. We're a team that believes in our abilities.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.