Above: Adam Ross (No. 44) and Joel Bryant (No. 5) are leaders on and off the field at Flintridge Prep High School. (Staff Photo/Keith Birmingham)
Team always comes first
Bryant, Ross keep proper perspective at Flintridge Prep
By Miguel A. Melendez
LA CAADA – Sure, football is their passion.
But for Joel Bryant and Adam Ross, it’s just a small piece to the everlasting puzzle we call life.
Bryant and Ross are running backs at Flintridge Prep. The Rebels didn’t have the best of starts this season, but Bryant and Ross, who have taken on the leadership role this season, are not concerned.
Bryant, who is as cool, calm and collected as an athlete can get, calmly explained how he gets his teammates to keep it together despite Flintridge Prep heading into Week 7 with a 1-5 overall record.
“I go into every game expecting we can win,” Bryant said. “Records are deceiving. They don’t define a team.”
Call them Thunder and Lightning.
Ross is a thundering back who would rather go through you than around you. Bryant is a lightning-quick back who is elusive and can avoid defenders with his quickness.
Ross is the workhorse who accounts for much of the Rebels’ yardage and leads Flintridge Prep down the field on long drives.
Enter Bryant, who finishes the job getting into the end zone.
“They blend as one complete running attack,” Rebels coach Perry Skaggs said.
“If you put us together we’re Reggie Bush,” Ross joked.
Ross finished with 12 touchdowns and 860 yards rushing last season to Bryant’s eight touchdowns and 428 yards.
Bryant has nine touchdowns to Ross’ six this season, but Ross shrugs it off.
What Skaggs will miss in Bryant and Ross when they leave for college are their personalities. They are two good players who are even greater people and shined because of who they are rather than what they do on the field.
“It’s team first with them at all times,” Skaggs said.
Bryant and Ross are coach’s players and throwbacks in an era when selfish, “me-first” attitudes are overwhelming the professional ranks.
“I’ve never seen an ounce of ego,” Skaggs said of Bryant and Ross. “You just don’t find that in a football player anymore.”
They are young men who admit football is fun, and that’s where they hope the sport remains in their eyes.
Bryant doesn’t have a favorite NFL team because the business side of it has taken the fun out of it.
And it is the reason Bryant decided to pursue a career in psychology, perhaps at Dartmouth, Brown, Georgia Tech or Colorado.
Bryant, a USC football fan, still wants to be involved in sports after college, but prefers it to be at the high school or lower levels where he can coach and share his knowledge.
Ross has type 1 diabetes, which is when the body does not produce insulin needed to take sugar (glucose) from the blood to cells.
Since he was 5 years old, Ross has used an insulin pump, which delivers rapid-or short-acting insulin 24 hours a day through a catheter placed under the skin. His insulin pump is placed in his lower right hip.
He makes light of the issue and smiled when he corrects people who mistake the pump for a cellphone.
Having diabetes is the reason Ross wants to go into pre-med at Emory or Penn and become an endocrinologist, trained to diagnose and treat hormone imbalances and care for many conditions including diabetes.
Football has been fun. And no matter how the season ends, Bryant and Ross soaked in the experience.
But for Bryant and Ross, bigger pieces in life await to fill the everlasting puzzle called life.
Bryant and Ross have been friends since freshman year. Over the course of four years they’ve not only grown physically but matured in the process.
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