OCEAN CITY – Lotzeir Brooks will have to meet high expectations of his capabilities.
If his college debut is any indication, he’ll just maneuver and overtake whatever defenders throw at him.
The freshman was central in Saturday night’s thrilling 31-28 season opener against Union, pulling off a 65-yard kickoff return for a score before winning an 85 reception. yards for the deciding touchdown in the fourth quarter.
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Much has been said about Millville being one of the best teams in the state this season. The hype earned the Thunderbolts a spot in the first Battle at the Beach demo match against a tough Union team.
With running back / senior linebacker LeQuint Allen, a commitment from Syracuse, the buzz around the Thunderbolts summer camp has focused on Brooks, the new 14-year-old who has already sparked interest in several football programs. Division I, including Rutgers.
“He’s a lightning bolt in the bottle,” Millville head coach Dennis Thomas said of his prized newcomer. “Lots of electricity (in his game). And he’s just a good guy. Throw that out, he’s just a good person. He’s a better person than an athlete and he’s a heckuva athlete.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Brooks showed that athleticism at two of the most crucial points in Saturday’s game.
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After Millville’s special teams forced a safety on a mismanaged snap, Brooks took the ensuing kickoff and completed 65 yards for the go-ahead score in the third quarter.
Union regained the lead on his next possession, but Brooks gave Millville the lead to stay halfway through the fourth quarter when he made his way down the straight sideline on a starting road. , reclaiming the pass from Nate Robbins and remained intact on his way to paydirt.
Millville was audible out of the original piece as Brooks walked up to the line.
“There was individual coverage,” Thomas said. “We noticed these guys wanted to play bump and run, I don’t know if there is anyone who can cover it one on one. I saw him several times (earlier), but I did not call him. I guess we would wait for the fourth to call him and that’s what we did.
While his play speaks volumes, Brooks is calm and humble, even by freshman standards. The only flash that one will notice about him off the field is his thousand-watt smile and multicolored hair.
“See the hole and go through it,” Brooks said of his simple strategy when he has the ball in his hands. “The team helped me to score.
Brooks’ reputation built by his dominance at the midget level makes for some pretty high comparisons, including one to former Paulsboro quarterback Kevin Harvey, who some consider to be one of the most electric players in South Jersey history. .
When asked about all the hype around Brooks, Thomas never hesitated with his answer.
“He better live up to the hype,” he said. “He has a frightening ability. Speed, he’s a 10.8, 100 (meter) guy. He’s just a dude. When you have guys, their fair guys. There’s not much you can do with these guys.
The overall speed of Millville’s team appeared to be boosted a few notches on the fast turf at Carey Stadium.
Union was very quick, but Millville was even faster as the game felt like a track and field meeting with some big hitting.
While Brooks is an impressive new side of the offense, Allen remains the strong and consistent veteran of the Thunderbolts. The senior, who was a second-team All-South Jersey selection last fall, ran for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Allen has the ability to torment defenses with his speed and power, crushing defenders when he can’t get around them.
“My vision,” Allen said of the part of his game that has improved from last year. “I run with my head held high, I can’t see the field anymore. See how the line hangs and see if I should bounce or bounce.
Millville’s season has not seen the best of starts as Union took the opening kickoff 85 yards for a score. The Farmers then added a touchdown just before half-time to take a 21-14 lead in the intermission.
However, the Thunderbolts never lost their temper – a good sign for what could be a very interesting season.
“We’ve been playing together since we were young, there’s a lot of chemistry (in this team),” Allen said.
Millville started their season 1-0 for the first time since 2017, knocking out a team from North Jersey, which looks like one of the best Group 5 schools in the state.
“It says a lot for South Jersey,” said Thomas. “South Jersey is in the house.”
Tom McGurk is a regional sports reporter for the Courier-Post, the Daily Journal and the Burlington County Times, covering South Jersey sports for over 30 years. If you have a sports story to tell, contact them at (856) 486-2420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @McGurkSports. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.