Roach’s football dreams get sacked|Injury forces quarterback to give up on game

Published 9:30 pm Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sports Editor

When Brad Roach watches today’s Super Bowl, he’ll do so with some mixed feeling. The former star quarterback at Williamston High School and Catawba College, who had a brief taste of NFL life, was forced to give up his dreams of playing in the NFL.
It wasn’t an easy decision for the former All-American, who has excelled at and loved the game since he was a kid.
“It was a combination of a lot of things,” Roach said regarding his decision to retire. “The big thing is my shoulder (injury). I want to be able to throw with my kids later in life. If I was to get hurt again, it could shatter my whole shoulder because I have a plate and a screw in there.
“Also, I wasn’t really enthused about playing Arena (football) again. It’s kind of hard to make a living off of it. It kind of stinks because Arena 1 folded and I was hoping to move up, and I didn’t have many opportunities come my way.”
Giving up on his dream wasn’t an easy decision for Roach.
“It was pretty tough,” Roach said. “I definitely thought about it a lot, especially when I got cleared (to resume football activities).”
Roach suffered the devastating shoulder injury while playing Arena ball for the Mahoning Valley Thunder. The injury occurred on the second series of Mahoning Valley’s 76-34 loss to Peoria.
Roach, who was making his third start for the Thunder, suffered a separation of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. AC joint injuries are graded on a scale from one to six, with six being the most severe. Roach suffered a grade five injury.
The 6-6, 250-pound quarterback dropped back to pass. As he was releasing the ball, Peoria defensive end Dedrick Clark hit Roach from behind and drove him to the ground. Roach landed on his throwing shoulder.
“I got hit from the back side and driven into the turf,” Roach said. “I’ve been a hit a million times like that before, but this one time the shoulder hit the ground perfectly.”
Roach completed 46 of 92 (50 percent) passes for 629 yards in four games with the Thunder. He threw 13 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, while also running for 17 yards on three carries.
Roach was used to putting up big numbers throughout his career. As a senior captain at Catawba, he was voted as the quarterback on the 2007 AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-America Team.
In his college career with the Indians, Roach completed 608 of 1,099 passes (55.3 percent) for 7,874 yards. He threw 62 touchdown passes.
Roach set a handful of records during his career at Catawba. He holds the school record for passing yards in a season (3,322 in 2007), touchdown passes in a season (32 in 2007), touchdown passes in a game (five against Albany State in 2007), completions in a season (224 in 2007), efficiency rating in a season (153.4 in 2007) and passing attempts in a season (384 in 2005).
He wrapped up his college career by playing in the Valero Cactus Bowl, the postseason all-star game for NCAA Division II football student-athletes.
Prior to college, Roach had an exceptional high school career, leading the Williamston Tigers to back-to-back state runner-up finishes.
Roach threw for 5,401 yards and 49 touchdowns with the Tigers. He received numerous honors his senior season, including Washington Daily News Offensive Player of the Year, 2002 NCHSAA Mr. Football for Class 1-A, all-state and all-Four Rivers Conference recognition. Roach also participated in the prestigious Shrine Bowl.
All his hard work led to a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens. He participated in training camp, but too many quarterbacks in camp eventually led to his release.
“I think the highlight (of my football career) was signing the papers with the Baltimore Ravens,” Roach said. “That’s something that a lot of kids dream of, and to be able to do that coming from a Division II school was just amazing.”
Roach, who also had a tryout with the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL, will always look back on his days with the Ravens fondly.
“Just being around some of the guys that I grew up watching (like Ray Lewis), I was kind of star-struck at first,” Roach said. “But, coming from a small town and being raised by good parents and a good family, that just kept me grounded.”
Roach is grateful for having such supportive parents (Keith and Amy Roach) and a community that followed him and supported him throughout his career.
“I’ve had unbelievable support from my family,” Roach said. “They’ve done all they can for me. My fans, my church family and everybody else have supported me to the fullest in everything I’ve done and I’d just like to thank them for that. I love my family and everybody that has supported me.”
Roach is hoping to return to football in some capacity.
“Coaching is a good possibility,” Roach said. “I’d like to find a good job first and then look into doing some coaching. It would be nice to get a full-time job and then ease into helping coach and get back to the game.”
Roach, who holds a degree in sports management, is wide open for job offers. (Those interested in talking with Roach about a position may contact him at 252-217-5058.)
His dream job would have been being one of the quarterbacks playing in today’s Super Bowl. With his recent retirement from the game, that will make watching the game a little bittersweet.
“I think it could be tough,” Roach said. “I feel like if somebody would have given me an opportunity and let me stick around, I wouldn’t have let them down. If I could have gotten the opportunity to stick with a system for a year or two, I think I could have done pretty good. But, that’s the way things work out.”