COLUMBIA — Battle High School's Brandon Hedrick never got to meet his grandfather, Roy Hedrick.
Roy Hedrick died 20 years ago, but his memory inspires his grandson's play on the football field.
South Callaway High School (5-0) at Battle High School (4-1)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Battle High School
"My goal in life, for football, is to be as good as my grandfather was," Brandon Hedrick said.
According to Brandon Hedrick, his grandfather played center at Missouri. Hedrick said he wished he could have the chance to talk with him about his collegiate years.
"I've seen pictures of him," Hedrick said. "My grandma says I look like him. I just hope to have the same good life that he did, in his college years."
The younger Hedrick is a 6-2, 305-pound nose guard on Battle's team. The sophomore has worked to improve his technique on the line, and the improvement is evident on the stat sheet. Hedrick shied away from football at first, but he soon realized what he could do with his size. He's a "friendly giant" who stands up to bullying, and he enjoys playing the trumpet to "mellow out."
In his first year playing nose guard, Hedrick has made marked improvement. Over the past four weeks, he's worked on his hand placement and being quicker with his "get off," his reaction to the snap. His hard work on the practice field has paid dividends. Through five games, Hedrick leads the team in fumbles recovered (three) and is tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (two).
Moreover, he has one of Battle's two defensive touchdowns. He scored last week against Gateway Tech High School when he helicoptered the quarterback into the end zone. His violent hit on the quarterback forced a fumble, which he jumped on for the score.
Despite his success, Hedrick said he was reluctant to take up football. He said he used to be undersized, and he wasn't confident in his physical abilities. But in fifth grade, Hedrick had a growth spurt, one that changed his mind about playing football.
"The size advantage ... helped me out. It's hard to realize what you're working with," Hedrick said.
"You don't realize how much power you have until you've been able to use it. In fifth grade, I think I learned my size advantage would help me in the long run. It's helped me be where I am today — it's a good thing."
Hedrick uses his size advantage in other ways, too. He said his younger brothers have been bullied, and he's had to have talks with the antagonists to stop the bullying.
"If they're messed with at school, I'll make sure that ends quickly," he said. "I just talk to 'em and tell 'em to stop — they realize I'm bigger than them. And I just tell 'em nicely to stop, and it's worked."
"That's what a big brother's supposed to do."
The quiet giant also looks out for underclassmen on the varsity football team. He's seen instances on other teams where younger players weren't treated kindly, and that made an impression on him. He strives to make varsity football a "friendly environment" for the freshmen players, not wanting them to have an unpleasant experience.
When he's not thwarting bullies and mentoring Battle's freshmen, Hedrick enjoys playing trumpet in the band.
"Well, people wouldn't believe me, but I'm in band actually. Some people just kinda chuckle and say, 'Are you serious?'" he said.
He is serious, and he likes playing the trumpet.
"It kinda mellows you out during the day," he said, explaining that his last-period band class relaxes him before football practice.
"I'm a 305-pound nose guard playing trumpet," Hedrick said, chuckling and cracking the lone smile during a conversation.
Hedrick is a reserved boy who chooses his words carefully. When asked what he'd want to talk with his grandfather about, Hedrick paused.
"I'd just tell him that I hope he's proud of what I'm doing, helping spread the family name," he said.
He said his father was also a high school lineman.
"It's just amazing knowing that I'm ... playing on the other side of the ball (from where my grandfather) did, just right across the (line from where he played)," Hedrick said.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.