BROOKSVILLE – Tad Fisher has spent his life in Bracken County.
Trey Brausch started at the Brooksville school last year as a junior.
Now, as both enter their senior seasons, the two have formed a friendship on and off the field, and also a dynamic offensive attack for the Bracken County football team with Brausch at quarterback and Fisher at running back.
“I’m a lot more familiar with the guys. They’re starting to turn into like brothers to me. Me and Tad, we have, I think, a unique bond where me and him got along right away,” said Brausch. “I’ve made really good friends here.”
The quarterback made the move to Bracken County with his father and head coach, Dave Brausch, who took over the program in 2017 for Mike Sizemore, who left for his native Clay County. Brausch had most recently coached at Amelia in Ohio, but spent the majority of his career at Lebanon High School, where he won the 1998 state championship. Also coming along was another son, defensive coordinator David Brausch.
“Some days one guy’s your best friend and the other guy’s kind of criticizing you every time,” said Trey Brausch. “It’s nice, because you’re comfortable with them and I learn a lot from them and I can trust in them for sure, 100 percent, with anything. That helps a lot.”
Fisher was one of the first people the quarterback met when they arrived in Brooksville. His father, Daniel Fisher, is Bracken County’s athletic director, which made Tad part of the welcoming committee.
“I first met him when he came last year with his dad and we kind of looked around a little bit and it started from there,” said Fisher. “We’re pretty good friends now.”
The two got off to a good start on the field as well. After making the trip to Switzerland County, Indiana, in the season opener, Fisher rushed 11 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while Brausch completed 8-of-14 passes for 81 yards. Fisher caught three of those passes for 44 yards.
Brausch fired his first touchdown pass in a Bracken County uniform the following week in Brooksville. The recipient was Fisher from 29 yards out to give the Polar Bears an 8-0 lead over Ludlow.
The two complemented each other well throughout the season, with Fisher’s running, combined with fullback Griffin Appleman, opening up plays through the air.
“Everybody’s expecting the run, run, run – play action, boom. Get them real quick,” said Brausch. “It’s nice having a run threat like that. You don’t have to have all the pressure on you.”
Fisher finished with 1,606 yards – a single-season record for the Polar Bears – and 19 touchdowns on 202 carries. Brausch completed 79-of-133 passes for 1,334 yards and 13 touchdowns. Fisher was a main target out of the backfield, collecting 24 receptions for 461 yards and five touchdowns, all team-highs.
In a 52-0 rout of Berea, Fisher broke the school’s single-season record for total touchdowns with his 23rd – he has 34 total touchdowns entering this season, the most in school history – and Brausch broke the single-game record for passing yards with 334.
“Me and Trey, we’re pretty comfortable. It’s probably the most comfortable I’ve been through my high school career with my quarterback,” said Fisher. “Whatever it takes to get the job done, we’ll do it.”
With Appleman, who rushed for 820 yards and 13 touchdowns on 110 carries, gone this season, the second-year Bracken County coach is expecting Fisher to carry the majority of the running load.
“We’ll probably be more of a one-back team this year. We just don’t have the true fullback in the group this year. Payton Gilvin, he runs the ball real hard and Richard Prewitt, another freshman, who’s looked good running the ball,” said Dave Brausch. “We’ve got some good young kids there to run the ball there too, but I think you’ll mostly see one-back sets from us.”
The Polar Bears claimed their first-ever postseason win last season, knocking off Fairview, 36-6, and look to improve upon that this season. They’re predicted to finish second in the Class 1A, District 5 poll. Fisher believes the key to success this fall will come from doing the little things right.
“Little things just like making sure we’re hitting the right hole, making sure we’re reading blocks right, making sure the lineman are still doing it right,” said Fisher. “It starts up there with them and give them all the credit for working hard this summer and making the team what we are.”
The two also played on the other side of the ball – Fisher as a linebacker and Brausch as a defensive back. They combined for 102 tackles and four interceptions, including one by Fisher that he took back to the end zone. Brausch also recovered a fumble. He’ll be moving to inside linebacker this season.
“I played linebacker my freshman and sophomore years, so it’s not that big of a change to me. I always played linebacker growing up, so it’s not like it’s a huge change,” said Brausch. “My brother’s a linebacker’s coach, so we’re fitting real good wherever I’m at.”
The “Bear Down” defense kept several opponents off the board last year, allowing only 13 points per game while shutting out four opponents and holding four others to eight points or less. They also allowed only 93.5 yards per game on the ground and 85 yards per game through the air.
Those two will likely be staples on the 2018 Bracken County defense, which will be key if they want to reach the top of their district. Paris, the preseason favorite, also features the preseason Player of the Year in Matthew Barber, who rushed for 960 yards and 14 touchdowns on 95 carries last season.
But as Fisher and Brausch enter their senior season, their focus is on Bracken County and their wins and losses, instead of other teams or personal numbers.
“I don’t really look at that stuff. I just focus on me and us. It’s not really about the Player of the Year. It’s about how the team does,” said Fisher. “I’m just focused on the team this year.”