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TUNNEL HILL -- Earlier this season, Northwest Whitfield High School quarterback Owen Brooker threw a bad pass during a game. Before the offense readied for the next play, the a familiar face encouraged the freshman signal caller -- his older brother Jeb, the starting right tackle for the Bruins.
"I walked up to him and said something to him and I was like, 'You're the guy. You've got this,'" Jeb Brooker said.
On the next play, the quarterback threw a perfect touchdown pass.
Now in his senior year, Jeb Brooker said he's enjoying playing with his brother since it's an experience that not many people get the chance to have.
"It's kind of something that we've always dreamed about," Brooker said. "We played in the backyard, we've got cousins. On Sundays me and my grandparents would always be out in the yard and he was always the quarterback. Then when he got up here playing 7-on-7, I thought 'He's actually got a shot at this.' And then when he got the job, I was like 'This is awesome.'"
The elder Brooker has been a steadying force not only for his brother, but also for the Northwest program over the past four years. Northwest coach Josh Robinson said Brooker, who is a bit undersized playing offensive line at 6 feet, 195 pounds, has worked in the weight room and on the field to hone his technique.
"He's really worked himself into a good player," Robinson said. "He really doesn't have trouble with anybody that's 250 or below, and those big guys are a little bit harder for him to move but he's really strong in the weight room. He's a really talented kid.
"We really could probably use him at fullback, H-back. He's one of those selfless guys that coaches love to have because despite his ability to play other positions he is willing to do what our team needs."
Brooker prefers his time on defense.
"Offensive line is a job I have to do, defensive line is when I get to play," Brooker said. "Defense is fun. Just getting out there and I get to make the big tackle. There's just more freedom when you play."
But in the bigger picture, he doesn't care where he is on the field because "I'm just out there to win ball games," he said.
The Brooker name has become commonplace at Northwest as plenty of family members have played sports for the Bruins. Brooker's father Jake played defensive end there in the early- and mid-90s, while his uncle Jerry was a linebacker around the same time.
"When I was a little kid all I thought of was Northwest Bruins," he said. "It's crazy when I remember being that little and seeing pictures of my dad and his tapes and thinking, 'I can't wait to be a Northwest Bruin.' Now, I'm a senior and it's just flown by."
Tonight, Brooker's senior year continues as the Bruins (3-1) visit Ridgeland (1-3, 1-0 in Region 6-4A) to start region play.