As members of Louisa Youth Football League’s 11 to 13-year-old Louisa Wildcats team broke the huddle to head out onto the muddy field of play on the rainy morning of Saturday, Oct. 19, a simple mantra was shouted in unison.
Two players on the team, 12-year-olds Austin Mills and Shaun Brown, have repeated that phrase more than the others. The two boys are the only members of the original Louisa Wildcats kindergarten-level team, which started play in 2006. Currently on the U-13 team, both players will graduate from the league and play football at Louisa County Middle School next year.
That is, if they don’t hurt each other first.
“Being on the same team is fun,” Brown said. “Sometimes we’ll argue and yell at each other, but then we’re friends with each other again at school the next day.”
Brown plays center for the team, a spot that the brawny young man seems built for. Mills is more of a Renaissance man of the gridiron, it’s easier to list off the number of positions he doesn’t play.
They may play different positions on the field, but both knew from a very young age that they just simply wanted the chance to participate. Whether it was throwing football in the back yard with their dads or playing in flag football leagues as preschoolers, their football addiction makes one wonder if they were born with football pads on.
“I like the competition,” Mills said. “I like playing different teams and seeing new stuff from every single team. One team will like to pass and another will like to run the ball. You have to be ready for everything.”
True to the nature a man who battles in the muddy trenches, Brown had a more simplistic approach to his favorite part of the game.
“It’s cool because you get to hit somebody,” Brown said. “I like laying people out, just rocking them!”
It’s that type of mindset that keeps Brown loose before games. Nicknamed “Gatorade” due to his affinity for wearing Florida Gator t-shirts, Brown likes to joke around as much as possible before kickoff. He tells anyone who will listen that he’s the best player on the team, and while he laughs as he says it, he never bothers to correct himself.
Mills, meanwhile, has a more cerebral approach. In pre-game warmups, he stares straight ahead and adds little to his teammate’s banter.
“I’m not a jokester,” said a matter-of-fact Mills.
Though the two have a different approach to the game, each one’s style works well for them. Not only does it work well for their game, but their teammates too, as Brown and Mills were voted as team captains this past season.
To read the entire story, see the Nov. 7 edition of The Central Virginian.