Atascocita QB Zion Brown becomes leader

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Rain started hitting Zion Brown’s helmet and trickling down to his hands to make it difficult to throw the football on his first start as a quarterback for Atascocita.

He was just a freshman taking on two-time defending champion North Shore State looking to secure at least a share of the 21-6A District title in the 2020 season.

On his first practice, the young quarterback threw an interception that the Mustangs returned for a touchdown.

Then the rain fell harder.

“It was nasty, it was raining and everything. I had the worst of it, but I learned a lot from that experience and played with a great team,” Brown recalled. “I was thrown into the fire, and that was new to me coming from the freshman team. Everything was new and faster than I thought. I have improved a lot since then and I have improved.

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Brown and the Eagles, the No. 7 Class 6A team in the state, open District 21-6A play against rival Kingwood at 7 p.m. Friday at Turner Stadium.

Brown made his first start due to regular starter Gavin Session breaking team rules and Brown only playing one quarterback. He is the only freshman quarterback to start a college game during Atascocita coach Craig Stump’s tenure with the Eagles.

“I think a lot of it is about making decisions,” Stump said of Brown’s improvement in the role. “As a quarterback, his talent level is high. His development was from the neck upwards. His decision making, understanding the position better, taking what the defense gives you and his ability to apply it. I think it’s getting better and better.

As a sophomore in 2021, Brown was back in the shotgun for Atascocita after Session suffered a season-ending knee injury in week two of district play.

With more confidence and a senior-led team, Brown was 5-2 as a starter and was named District Newcomer of the Year 21-6A. Atascocita advanced to the Class 6A Division I Region III Finals before losing 44-20 to eventual state champion North Shore.

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This season, the Junior Signalman has Atascocita 2-1 entering district play.

“We’re coming into the district pretty confident,” Brown said. “We had a tough pre-season playing Dickinson, Katy and Liberty which prepared us for the district. We will attack the district hard and come to train every day and work hard to win on Friday. If we train hard, the game will seem much easier.

Brown enters the district game as the statistically best quarterback in the 21-6A through three games of non-district play. Brown is 49 of 86 for 697 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. On the ground, he has 16 races for 95 yards.

He went from no-star with no offer as a rookie to a three-star, dual-threat quarterback with an offer from Sam Houston State. He remains humble and focused to be a leader in the team.

“I’m looking much better at my readings and pocket presence,” Brown said. “I’m fast in the game now and things have slowed down for me. Now that I can go fast, I can do a lot more as a quarterback to get us down the field.

Last season, Brown had two Division I wide receivers in Chase Sowell (Colorado) and Keith Wheeler II (Tulane). He doesn’t have those Division I wide receivers this season, but a talented core of wide receivers who can make plays in senior Darrell Gill, junior Kyran “TC” Lee, junior Cameron Glenn and senior Claude Slaughter.

Gill has 14 receptions for 194 yards with three touchdowns, Lee has ten receptions for 162 yards with a touchdown, and Glenn has nine receptions for 173 yards with two touchdowns.

“Even since Chase and Keith left, I’ve been working with my wide receivers,” Brown said. “We did a lot of extra work to develop that chemistry and get better and better. They all did a great job and any of them can play a part in the game for us.

Brown enjoys hanging out with Stump watching movies and having one-on-one time at quarterback drills. He likes the way his coach tells him the truth and doesn’t hold back to make him a better player.

Brown sees Stump as a father figure and enjoys Stump’s jokes from time to time.

Unlike his debut, there is no rain forecast for Friday’s district opener, but Brown is just living the dream every day as he thought he would grow up in Atascocita.

“I wanted to be the starting quarterback for Atascocita since I was in grade school,” Brown said. “It’s great to be able to do it now and play with my friends. We want to do something special while we’re here, but we’re taking it one day at a time, as Coach Stump says. We’re thrilled for the district and we can’t wait to play on Friday.

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