Steel Valley’s Cruce Brookins Showcases Combination of Explosion and Physicality
MUNHALL, Pa. — Steel Valley is back to their winning ways, and after a tough match against 2A contender Sto-Rox, the Ironmen have put the mercy rule into effect the past two weeks. The team has plenty of talent, but there is no doubt that things start with star quarterback and safety Cruce Brookins.
Brookins put his stardom on display during a 56-6 win over Imani Catholic Academy, a game in which he scored four touchdowns on four rush attempts. Brookins immediately had the offense humming, and on the second offensive play of the game, he ran a touchdown from 13 yards out.
“I know that I’ve got faith in my line,” said Brookins on a run that essentially just needed his acceleration to finish.
Still, while Brookins displayed the leadership to credit his line immediately, it was his star left tackle Gregory Smith who said the rushing performance was an indication of the star with the ball.
“Shout out to this kid right here, man,” said Smith with a big smile on his face as he pointed out Brookins in reference to the dominant rushing performance.
The first rush was almost too easy for Brookins, but the next two times he decided to run the football he picked up matching 66-yard touchdowns. These two required more weaving, juking, and maneuvering for defenders, but started and finished the same way, and that is the line giving him daylight, and Brookins finishing with the afterburners on.
“When he’s on, he goes,” said Steel Valley head coach Ray Braszo. “He’s a tough worker, he’s very explosive, he gets us going and kids follow him.”
Braszo and Smith were quick to call out Brookins as a leader and someone that the team follows. They sure did follow him from the three touches for three scores. After he got them off to the 21-0 lead, the score quickly became 56-6 by halftime.
Brookins added a fourth score and finished with four rushes for 161 yards and four touchdowns. While Brookins was dynamic on offense, he was a part of the Steel Valley defense that set the tone for the game. They forced a fumble on the first drive, had two turnovers on downs the next two drives, then added a pick-six after that.
Brookins was involved on the defensive side as a leader in the backend, but also made two big-time hits coming down at defenders. Twice he was able to separate the football from the receiver with a clean, textbook, but vicious blows.
When Brookins made the hits that had fans shouting like they just saw a hard fall from the show Wipeout you could see Brookins get as excited, if not more excited than when he finished off the touchdown runs.
“That’s my game that’s one of my favorite things is hitting,” said Brookins with a big smile on his face when it became time to talk about defense. “I love that feeling of getting a big hit.”
For as much the leader of the team is obviously the quarterback with four touchdowns, it was the same player setting the tone, and leading by example to a similar benefit on defense.
“Cruce is a for real safety, that’s why he is going to college to play defense, he loves defense,” said Braszo. “He works hard in the weight room and he has made himself an explosive and strong player, he likes to come up and hit that’s just the way he is.”
The combination of explosive and physical is a great place to be when thinking of an FBS caliber safety. Brookins displayed this combination throughout the game on both sides of the football, which makes it no surprise why colleges are continuing to look at Brookins as an impact player at the next level.