Bragg Still Key Part of Spartans

Last month, with the Greenbrier East Spartans leading Mingo Central 7-0 midway through the first quarter, East tight end Braden Bragg made a catch during a drive where the Spartans were moving down the field and gaining momentum quickly.

However, on that catch, Bragg, a 6-foot-inch, 215-pound senior stayed on the ground for several minutes. That would be his last catch and the last game of his career. Later that week, Bragg was ruled out for the rest of the season, one of the worst heartbreaks an athlete can experience, especially with it being the final year.

Knowing he would never step foot on the field as a player again, Bragg was upset, obviously, but also learned valuable lessons at the same time.

“Ever since I got hurt, I have grown a lot as a player and a person. One thing that I have learned is that to never take things for granted. I never thought going into that game at Mingo Central that it would be my last high school game. You should always play each game as it could be your last one,” Bragg said.

Also, Bragg is still involved with the team just as much now as when he was stepping out between the sidelines. In fact, coach Ray Lee may want him to stick around as a staff member after graduation.

“I have been acting as a coach at practice and games. I have been helping other players who have filled my position. I want to help out my team on winning and keeping their minds right when things don’t go our way,” Bragg said proudly.

That attitude has come as no surprise to coach Lee.

“Braden has earned everything and not been given anything,” Lee said early last month.

“He has a servant mentality in that he wants to serve in any capacity possible for the betterment of not himself, but for his teammates and our program,” Lee stated.

East has their last regular-season game this Friday, Oct. 29 against Lincoln County and according to Bragg, his team is ready, focused and prepared for the postseason.

“Our teams’ mindset is to make it into the playoffs and keep going deeper into the playoffs and play one game at a time each week.”

That would also mean a lot to Bragg as well, as would being able to host a state tourney game at Spartan Stadium.

“If we host a playoff game it will mean a lot to me and my teammates to be the second team to host a playoff game in 20 something years, and just having the whole community behind us and having a pack Spartan stadium.

Bragg had five catches for 73 yards and a TD on the season and was also one of the best punters in the entire state. He averaged 36.6 yards per punt before being sidelined. He will always hold his Spartan days close to his heart and will always remember a certain couple of games.

“Some of my best memories as a Spartan are winning in two overtime games against Ripley and Princeton, and beating Woodrow three times in two seasons,” Bragg said.

Acting as a coach now has helped Bragg in many ways. But what he has learned himself from his own coaches over the years is something he will never forget.

“To be a role model for all the underclassmen coming up, in school and out of school,” Bragg said when asked the biggest lesson he learned.

“They (the coaches) have taught us to always be a good person and to always do the right thing. As a team, they have always taught us that it takes a team to play, that there is never “I” in team,” Bragg concluded.

Fans can see Bragg on the sidelines this Friday with as much passion and drive as if he was out there catching a game-winning pass in the end zone.

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