Brody-Heim back in action for Union

Titans' all-purpose player has overcome knee injury

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter

Published:

 

He knew he would be back this season.

Heck, he knew he would be back sooner than anybody else expected.

This is Brandon Brody-Heim’s senior season of football at Union High School. A knee surgery in Week 2 might have taken him away from the game temporarily.

But just temporarily.

He returned to the field in Week 5 — playing defense for a half. Just to get a feel for the game.

By Week 6, he got a few touches on offense — and a couple of touchdowns.

Yeah, that felt good.

In Week 7, he got more opportunities, and more touchdowns. This time four.

Yep, that works.

In Week 8, he returned to the position he envisioned throughout the offseason, when he was getting in the best shape of his life. He was once again the featured running back in a run-oriented attack. He scored five touchdowns.

Yes, Brandon Brody-Heim is back.

Friday night, Brody-Heim is hoping to help his Titans to the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League football title. Union takes on three-time defending champion Skyview at 8 p.m. at Kiggins Bowl.

Brody-Heim was highlighted in several of the offseason clinics and camps as a player on the rise. He was stronger and faster. He could be a linebacker or a running back, the college scouts predicted.

He first thought college football was a possibility when he made the top team comprising of ninth-, eighth-, and seventh-graders for his school in Hawai’i. He was one of only two seventh-graders on that squad.

He and his family moved to Vancouver the next year, and he has been excelling at football whenever he has had the opportunity.

This season, he was primed for a fantastic senior season.

Then something went awry. Probably in the final preseason scrimmage.

“I took one wrong cut, and it felt weird,” Brody-Heim said. “I didn’t know what it was.”

Still, he played in the first game, against Bothell. Union coach Cale Piland said Brody-Heim was just a shell of himself. Something was wrong.

It turned out, Brody-Heim had torn meniscus in his right knee. He underwent surgery on Sept. 9, the day of Union’s Week 2 victory over Enumclaw.

“I wanted to do everything I possibly could. I wanted to do what I could to get back as fast as I could,” Brody-Heim said. “I never thought I was done.”

Piland credits Brody-Heim’s work in the offseason, to get his body in perfect shape, for the quick bounce-back to the field. Brody-Heim returned a couple weeks earlier than the typical rehabilitation schedule for such a procedure.

Interestingly, Brody-Heim got back with the help of Rebound trainer Jeff Kraayeveld, who used to be Union’s trainer but now is at Skyview.

“It did help that I had worked so hard in the offseason, but I also worked with Jeff. He had no doubt I’d come back sooner,” Brody-Heim said. “I was excited to hear that from him because I trust him so much.”

By Week 5, Brody-Heim was ready to give the knee a test in a game.

“I wasn’t nervous, surprisingly,” Brody-Heim said. “I wasn’t worried about the knee. I just went out there and played.”

The next week, he got those touchdowns on offense.

“After that, you’re fully back, and you can actually be part of the games,” Brody-Heim said. “It felt so good to be back on the field with my buddies.”

He was easy to find the last two weeks during the game — he was the one in the end zone nine times.

After the game, he is easy to spot, too. He’s sporting a bleach-blonde dye job.

The Titans just hope it is not easy for the Storm to slow him down.

“He makes a huge difference with what we want to do on both sides of the ball,” Piland said. “A kid with his size and physical nature, combined with his athletic ability, he lets us do a lot of different things.”

A year ago, Brody-Heim scored on a 35-yard touchdown run to tie the Skyview-Union game going into the fourth quarter. Skyview would prevail, but Brody-Heim left an impression on the Storm.

“The guy who ripped through us was Brody-Heim,” Skyview coach Steve Kizer said. “We know he’s good. We know he’ll be 100 percent by the time he sees us.”

Brody-Heim said the Titans have a lot of respect for the Storm, too.

“We’re both great teams. We both have heart. We’re both going to be excited,” he said. “Who takes care of the football, I think, will decide the game.”

Brody-Heim should have the ball in his hands a lot.

And he wants to make up for a few lost weeks in his senior season.