HS Football 2021: Washougal Panthers

Thomas Brown’s faith has kept him strong while overcoming injuries and preparing for his senior season with the Washougal Panthers

Thomas Brown made a commitment to the weight room in preparation for his final high school football opportunity

WASHOUGAL — Thomas Brown has had some tough setbacks on the football field, but he has never lost his strength, his will to succeed.

He missed his freshman season with a broken vertebrae.

He played a full season as a sophomore, some time on junior varsity, as well as six appearances in varsity games. 

Ready to take the leap to the next level, the pandemic hit, delayed everything, and then, when Brown was ready to take the field again, he tore a hamstring.

Another wasted opportunity.

Thomas Brown of Washougal looks to be a top receiver in the 2A Greater St. Helens League, hoping to make the most of his senior season. Photo by Paul Valencia
Thomas Brown of Washougal looks to be a top receiver in the 2A Greater St. Helens League, hoping to make the most of his senior season. Photo by Paul Valencia

Now, as a senior at Washougal, he is in the best shape of his life. 

He also wears a rubber bracelet with a special message: Philippians 4:13.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” the verse reads.

“Having God on my wrist means a lot to me,” Brown said. “I can look down on that and know He is with me and keeping me strong.”

Soul. Mind. And body.

Brown has made sure his body is ready for the demands of football.

That COVID delay just meant more time to lift weights for Brown. But a torn muscle put a halt to most of that winter/spring schedule. Not all of it, though.

“Only five games, but I needed to play,” Brown said. “I worked as hard as I could and rehabbed to get back, and I played in that last game.”

That was a heartbreaker for Washougal. The Panthers had league champion Hockinson on the ropes for much of the night. The Hawks rallied for a late victory.

Brown said that result has motivated him to make the most of his final season with Washougal.

“We got so close,” Brown said. “I had to push myself harder. I gotta push everyone else harder, too. How close we got? I knew we could beat them. We just have to keep working.”

Washougal senior Thomas Brown missed most of the spring campaign with an injury but now is ready to lead the Panthers, his family, into a full fall football season. Photo by Paul Valencia
Washougal senior Thomas Brown missed most of the spring campaign with an injury but now is ready to lead the Panthers, his family, into a full fall football season. Photo by Paul Valencia

The 2A Greater St. Helens League football season ended in March. The training for the traditional fall season of 2021 began immediately.

“I’ve been working really hard, and I’ve been trying my absolute best to encourage everybody to work as hard as they can to get ready for any opportunity they can get,” Brown said.

He, of all people, knows that nothing is guaranteed — missed one full season, then missed most of an abbreviated season. 

For seniors such as Brown, there is only one chance left.

Washougal coach Dave Hajek just loves having Brown, and his leadership, in his program. Brown was named a team captain last year as well as this season.

“He’s overcome a lot, and he’s lived in the weight room. He’s the hardest working kid we have,” Hajek said. “He’s a pretty ripped kid.”

Washougal’s Thomas Brown “lived in the weight room,” according to his coach, and is “ripped” heading into his senior season. Photo by Paul Valencia
Washougal’s Thomas Brown “lived in the weight room,” according to his coach, and is “ripped” heading into his senior season. Photo by Paul Valencia

Brown will be a receiver and a safety for the Panthers. He said he likes offense better but he also loves to hit people.

Besides encouraging his teammates to hit the weight room this year, he is also emphasizing what he has learned in his time in the program.

“I’ve gained a family,” Brown said. “Washougal is family.”

This season, the family has a lot of younger brothers. A young squad, with some older brothers to lead them. Such as Thomas Brown.

“My goal is for everyone to step up,” Brown said. “We don’t have that much experience, but learn fast. I want everyone to learn fast and just be ready for it. We need that out of everybody.”

Thomas Brown’s faith has kept him strong while overcoming injuries and preparing for his senior season with the Washougal Panthers
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