Player to Watch: James Brooks


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — We are less than two months away from the first Friday night of the 2020 high school football season. As we get ready for another outstanding year of football in WNY, we’re going to spotlight some of the players that stood out on the field in 2019 and are looking to shine in 2020.

On the field, Clarence senior linebacker James Brooks is a force to be reckoned with.

“You coach for 27 years, and kids like JD come along few and far between,” Clarence head coach Paul Burgio said.

“I think I lead a lot by having everyone else follow my lead by example, and just trying to keep everyone intact and have them all do the right thing at all times,” Clarence linebacker James Brooks said. “On the sidelines, when coach is talking, or we’re doing drills and they’re not in it, I want them to be paying attention and listening, just making sure they’re doing the right thing.”

“He’s a special leader for the program, contacting players in the off-season, doing everything coaches need him to do. The next strength he has is the ability to bring everyone up on the team,” Coach Burgio said. “He’s not a big talker, he’s a lead by example player, and when you have players like that, it just makes your team better for sure.”

In his junior season, James led the Red Devil defense with 42 solo tackles, 34 assisted tackles, seven tackles for loss and two sacks.

“It’s nice to command the defense, because you bring a certain intensity to the game. You want everyone else to follow that lead, and you want everyone else to match that intensity,” Brooks said. “Pretty much if you’re loud and vocal, doing the right thing at all times and delivering hard hits, everyone else is going to want to do the same thing.”

“Over the years, the prototypical middle linebacker has changed into what you see with him, that 6’2″, 6’3″ long and lean 220-pound frame that can run all over the field. When you watch film on this young man, not only is he physical, because you have to be physical to be a middle linebacker, but his ability to cover the field with his speed and his agility is unbelievable,” Coach Burgio said. “As far as his talents, his vision and ability to not get blocked is a special thing.”

The Red Devils put together a 6-3 record in 2019, including a huge 23-21 overtime win against Lancaster during the regular season which marked the first win over the Legends since 2014. With a newfound fire lit going into the 2020 season, James is ready to lead his team to a strong regular season, and playoff run.

“To be a Clarence Red Devil means a lot to me. We have such a close-knit family here and we’ve built such a nice brotherhood with Coach Burgio and the other coaches,” Brooks said. “Last year we had a great regular season but we didn’t really finish off in the postseason very well, so we want to win a playoff game and maybe win the Section.”

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