A Markey attractionPublished 8:53pm Friday, January 4, 2013
PLYMOUTH — With three 1,000-yard rushers on the team the Plymouth offense was easily one of the most explosive in the area. However, defense wins championships. More specifically, defense wins state championships.
That was the case during this year’s NCHSAA 1-A state title game as the Vikings slammed the door shut on Murphy to preserve a 20-15 lead with less than two minutes left to go in the fourth quarter.
As the Bulldogs worked their way into the red zone all Plymouth middle linebacker Markey Brooks was thinking was, ‘We just can’t let them score.”
With three seconds to go, Murphy snapped the ball from the Vikings’ 20 and threw a desperation pass near the right side of the end zone but it fell incomplete. Plymouth held on to win its second state championship in five years and finished the season with a 15-1 record.
The late stand was the icing on the cake for a Plymouth defense that pitched three shutouts this season and held teams under 10 points in 50 percent of its games. That kind of dominance doesn’t come without being staunch up the middle and that’s where Brooks comes in.
The 6-3, 225-pound senior middle linebacker was a presence on the field and dominated inside the box to the tune of 98 tackles and five sacks en route to being named the Washington Daily News Defense Player of the Year.
“I’ve been on the Plymouth staff for 12 years now and Markey ranks up there as probably the best linebacker – along with Dasheen Perry (the 2007 WDN Defensive Player of the Year) – that I ever coached,” said Vikings defensive coordinator Corey Crossen. “And he’s probably more of a college-type of player because of his size and athleticism.”
Brooks’ giant frame was never more useful than when Plymouth clashed with an undefeated Manteo team earlier in the year as he recorded a season-high 16 tackles to top the Redskins and allow the Vikings to take the driver’s seat in the race for the Four Rivers Conference championship.
“His biggest game was the first time we played Manteo,” Plymouth head coach Robert Cody said. “(Manteo) came out with big line splits and he was able to just start blowing up the B gap, which would have been the C gap normally, and he probably made about seven tackles in a row. That game he really started gaining some confidence and just fulfilled every dream I had of him.”
Cody said what elevated Brook’s play to Dasheen Perry-type levels was his improved knowledge of the game.
“The thing he did a lot better this year was that he squared his reads up a lot better. He backed up off the ball a little bit more and was able to extend his responsibilities from B gap to B gap and a lot further because he was able to read pulling guards so well. He started believing in what he saw.”