TAYLOR – Marquis Brownlee spent the entire 2011 season as a loyal player on the practice field even though he eventually learned he would never play a game in his first year as a West Scranton student.
"Coach used to always pat me on the back and say, ‘Marquis, one day, you'll be out there," Brownlee said.
As promised, West Scranton coach Joe Gerek introduced Brownlee to the Lackawanna Football Conference Friday night, Aug. 31.
"Today, right before we came out, he said, ‘today's your chance,'" Brownlee said.
Running with the fury of a player who put in an entire season watching everyone else play while his teammates struggled to a 3-6 finish, Brownlee was a dominant force on Opening Night 2012.
Brownlee, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior tailback with speed, was a huge reason West Scranton possessed the football for more than two-thirds of Friday night's 26-20 victory over host Riverside.
"He's physical," Gerek said. "That kid's a strong, fast kid."
Brownlee punished the Vikings with a series of runs, mostly between the tackles. He gave the Invaders leads in the second and third quarters before they eventually won it in the fourth.
If he looked just a little tired late in the game, it was because Brownlee also kept busy at linebacker, contributing three tackles on a unit that contained Riverside quarterback Nicholas Dranchak after the Vikings opened a 10-0 lead on their first two possessions.
"Dranchak is a good player to chase around," Brownlee said. "He's a great player.
"That's what wore me out."
Expect Brownlee to be pushed to the point of fatigue on more Friday nights. That's just fine with him after spending those nights last season not even breaking a sweat.
Brownlee knew that academic troubles from his sophomore year at Scranton High School were going to mean sitting out the start of the 2011 season. Then, he learned that his transfer was not considered to be within the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association guidelines, which restrict those made for athletic purposes.
"It was like redshirting," Brownlee said. "I couldn't even play."
Unlike college redshirts, Brownlee does not get to trade in his year off for an additional season later.
This is his last chance to run the ball for a high school team. His 26 carries for 159 yards showed that Brownlee is ready to make the most of it.
"I've been waiting for this," he said.
It has been a long wait.
"He did an outstanding job," Gerek said. "You have to understand that he hasn't carried the ball since he was a freshman.
"He didn't play as a sophomore or a junior. He's come from nowhere, from total obscurity."
The days in obscurity are over.
Brownlee said he is not about to let classroom shortcomings keep him off the field.
"I'm doing much better now," he said. "I have a lot of things I've got to overcome.
"I work hard in the classroom first."
Brownlee would not mind packing three years of carries into one long-awaited season.
"If that's what it takes for the team to win," Brownlee said. "I'll do whatever it takes to win."
He certainly did Friday night.