By Rubin E. Grant
Mountain Brook senior Blake Pugh paid a lot of attention to former teammate Logan Brewer during the 2019 football season.
Brewer always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, making plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams.
This season Pugh is doing similar things for the Spartans, playing cornerback and receiver and returning kickoffs. But please don’t compare him to Brewer, who graduated in the spring.
“Logan was awesome,” Pugh said. “I looked up to him. I wouldn’t say I inherited his role. I am trying to do my own thing, but I knew with Logan gone I’d have to step up and be a leader.”
Pugh is making plays while leading. He has more than 20 tackles and four interceptions from his cornerback spot and has two receptions on offense. He is averaging 24.0 yards on kick returns.
“He’s a playmaker,” Mountain Brook coach Chris Yeager said. “Even last year he played both sides of the ball and had some big receptions.
“It seems like to me, in crucial situations when the game is on the line, he is always the guy who comes through. When you need someone to make a play, he makes it.”
Yeager believes it’s more than just Pugh’s athletic ability that enables him to make plays.
“I think he’s a good athlete,” Yeager said, “but the thing about him is he has no fear of making mistakes. But he takes calculated risks. When he believes he can make a play, he goes out and makes it. He’s a fearless competitor.”
The 6-foot, 175-pound Pugh shrugs off what he’s done this season.
“I think so far I’ve played good,” Pugh said. “I’ve had two picks in a game and that was an awesome feeling, but even when I don’t do anything special, it’s still fun being out there. I love going out and playing with the guys and that hypes me up.”
The Spartans clinched the Class 6A, Region 5 championship two weeks ago with a 28-0 victory against Homewood. Last week, they beat Chelsea 35-21 to finish region play with a 6-0 record. Overall, Mountain Brook is 8-1, with the only loss coming to Class 7A No. 1 Thompson.
“It’s been an amazing year and winning the region with a bunch of guys I’ve played with for several years makes it even more special,” Pugh said. “We hadn’t won a region championship since 2011, and I will look back at that one day and smile about what we accomplished.”
The region title isn’t the only memorable part of the 2020 season as far as Pugh is concerned. It was just getting to play football during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with all the uncertainty when the season started.
“This season has been one to remember, something special,” Pugh said. “Everybody is hating on COVID and that’s definitely for a reason, but I’ll remember this season for the rest of my life.
“I try to stay positive and just look forward to the next game because you never know what can be expected. I think it’s brought us all closer together as a team. We have learned to cherish every moment.”
The Spartans will close the regular season Friday with a trip to Decatur to play Class 7A Austin (8-1). Mountain Brook will open the state playoffs next week, hoping to wind up in Tuscaloosa for the Super 7 Championships.
“Our goal is to win a state championship, but we can’t look that far ahead,” Pugh said. “We have to take it one step at a time, but we’ll all be disappointed if we don’t get to Bryant-Denny.”