Red Bank Catholic’s Alex Brown is the 2021 Shore Sports Network Football Offensive Player of the Year
At a time when his was broken, Alex Brown captured the hearts of the Jersey Shore and thousands more around the country with his display of perseverance. To many, Brown was unknown to them before his viral eight touchdown playoff game the day after his mother, Michelle, passed away after a long fight with cancer.
As much as that game on that day will never be forgotten and will always be part of his legacy, the depth of Brown’s impact runs deeper than one game.
In an unforgettable senior year, Brown helped lead the Caseys to an 11-1 record and a state championship by throwing for 1,823 yards and 22 touchdowns with just two interceptions and rushing for 565 yards and 10 touchdowns on an average of 7.5 yards per carry. The Caseys defeated DePaul, 13-8, in the NJSIAA Non-Public B state final and Brown accounted for both touchdowns with a touchdown pass and a third-quarter touchdown run that held up as the game-winning score.
Brown was instrumental in RBC winning a division title, a state championship, and finishing as the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference, and for that he is our selection as the 2021 Shore Sports Network Offensive Player of the Year.
“It was an unbelievable season and an unbelievable journey,” Brown said. “That feeling at MetLife Stadium just put it all together. There were some tough moments along the journey but our coaches and our players put it together, and to come back from all that just made it that much better. It was definitely a special journey.”
Brown certainly didn’t come out of nowhere, but his meandering path to state champ and Offensive Player of the Year has not been without its challenges. He lived most of his life in New York City before his family moved to Rumson and he attended St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City as a freshman. He then transferred to Mater Dei Prep where he was a two-year starter, two-time All-Shore selection, and helped the Seraphs reach the 2019 Non-Public Group 3 state championship game. But in June, Mater Dei announced it would not field a varsity team for the 2021 season. Brown and the rest of the Seraphs now needed another school if they were going to continue their high school football careers.
Brown’s younger brother, Markus, attends Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School but it was important to Alex to remain at a catholic school. He decided on Red Bank Catholic, and it ended up being a magical pairing for both the player and the program even if it was a tad awkward at first.
“I will tell you at first they didn’t know how they felt about me,” Brown said. “But that first day I thought we connected pretty well. There was a lot of back and forth on social media about me and Rajahn (running back/linebacker Rajahn Cooper) and Ashton (offensive lineman Ashton Mejias) being at Mater Dei first, but the guys really accepted us and it was a pretty awesome atmosphere. It’s a special place and I’m grateful to these guys for accepting me.”
He made his presence felt right away when RBC opened the season with a 34-0 win over Timber Creek by throwing for 223 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 49 yards and a touchdown. The only two blemishes on his resume came in the next game when he threw two interceptions vs. Wall, but he also threw for three touchdowns and in a 20-16 victory. Those were the only interceptions he threw all season. Brown had thrown just 10 interceptions in two seasons coming into this season but wanted to refine his accuracy and decision making even more entering his senior year.
“Working with my quarterback coach in the offseason I really wanted to focus on my accuracy and just being efficient,” Brown said.
What helped Brown take his game to another level was his ability to make plays on the ground. He displayed great escapability during the win over Timber Creek and that became a theme throughout the season. He routinely turned would-be sacks into big plays and also did damage on designed runs.
“The coaches letting me use my legs a little bit more was huge,” Brown said. “I never really got to run as much as this year and using my legs is a big part of my game. Being a dual-threat quarterback puts a lot on the defense. And having a great (offensive) line like I did this year, that really helps out.”
The Caseys were 7-0 following a thrilling 21-14 win over Rumson-Fair Haven and then defeated Manalapan the following week to improve to 8-0. Then came a showdown with Donovan Catholic in the final week before the playoffs started. The Griffins got the better of the Caseys that night in a 28-7 victory that knocked RBC from the ranks of the unbeaten. Six days later, Michelle Brown passed away. Brown was devastated, but his response told you everything you need to know about his resolve.
RBC opened its playoff run the next night and Brown was incredible with eight total touchdowns in a 58-34 win over Morris Catholic. Donning a quarterback towel reading “Momma, this one for you”, Brown threw for 238 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns. His story traveled far and wide and it wasn't long before interview requests were pouring in from media outlets at both the local and national levels.
“I would say in football more than any other sport, family means everything,” Brown said. “Going through something like that, I really leaned on my guys and the entire RBC community. I love this whole family, I love my guys, and they really helped me get through this.”
In the Non-Public B semifinals, Brown ran for two second-half touchdowns to lead the Caseys to a 21-10 win over St. Joseph (Hammonton). That victory put the Caseys into the state final where they squared off against DePaul, which entered the game ranked No. 3 in New Jersey.
Brown led the Caseys on a 71-yard scoring drive to open the game, connecting with junior wide receiver Najih Rahman on a 33-yard touchdown to give RBC a quick 7-0 lead. DePaul scored early in the third quarter to take an 8-7 lead but Brown and the Caseys answered right back with Brown’s 2-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to take a 13-8 lead. That was the final score of the night and just a short while later, the Caseys were hoisting a state championship trophy.
Brown took in the moment standing on the field at MetLife Stadium, thinking about everything that had transpired along the way. He high-fived and hugged his teammates, shared a moment with his father, Ray, at midfield, and walked through the tunnel knowing he had closed out his high school career as a state champion. Next stop: Bucknell University.
“There’s a lot to remember,” Brown said. “My whole journey has been a little crazy but this has been a special season so there’s a lot of great moments. I’ll always remember the state championship win, looking at my guys and seeing how happy they were, knowing all the work we put in during the summer, my dad crying on the 50-yard line with me and us just being as happy as we were. That’s a moment that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”