When 17-year-old Sedona resident and student Brad Lenzen began his high school sports career at Sedona Red Rock High, fellow students and coaches wouldn’t give the young man a chance.
Standing nearly 6-feet, 4-inches tall, Lenzen is a gangly fellow, or a steel string bean one might say.
At first glance, one might not think this kid is a football player, or any kind of athlete all together.
His interesting, if not quirky, personality and his heart make up the player his teammates see today. Although he isn’t the fastest, the strongest, the quickest, or the most talented, Lenzen’s big heart is the one thing that gives him a chance to succeed.
Always the first to show to practice and last to leave, Lenzen worked his way through the laughter during his freshman year.
“No one accepted me because they didn’t think I was good enough,” Lenzen said.
At the time, Lenzen was hobbling around like one leg was shorter than the other as he broke his leg during a skateboarding accident while with friends at a skate park.
Refusing to quit, Lenzen still tried to go out for the basketball team at SRRHS but had to painfully stop and let the leg heal. He tells the story that not being able to play basketball pained him more than the leg ever did.
By his sophomore year, Lenzen made his way onto the baseball team but received minimal playing time, if none at all at the varsity level, but was an outfielder on the junior varsity.
Still, this young man wouldn’t quit.
During his junior year, Lenzen tried out for the Scorpion football team just to see what it was like.
Throughout the season, Lenzen showed up every day to practice, played harder than anyone and gave more effort than one can imagine on a team that finished the season 2-8.
Lenzen rarely played, but his spirit began to grow in football and it quickly became the one sport where he felt, well, not so out of place, he admitted.
During the spring and summer of 2009, Lenzen put in countless hours on his own, training, getting ready for his big senior season.
On any given day during the tail end of the school year, Lenzen could be seen running and sprinting his heart out on the dirt back fields of SRRHS.
Every step he took was one step closer to making sure his senior year was going to be a good one.
“I wanted to make sure I was strong enough, and in shape enough, to make it through a tough football season. I just wanted to play the game and have fun, and I thought I needed to show everyone that I could,” Lenzen said.
Working tirelessly in the weight room and even sharpening his tackling skills on his own using an old football dummy found lying in the weeds behind SRRHS, Lenzen began to feel he was prepared for the 2009 football season.
Lenzen even worked on his catching skills with sophomore quarterback, and friend, Jack Johnson, running routes until the light in the sky no longer allowed him to do so.
“I wanted to be ready for any position, but more importantly I wanted to not let my team down. I want to win a state championship and I don’t want to hold my teammates back because I can’t do something on the field,” Lenzen said.
A 3.10 GPA student and fan of playing the drums, Lenzen walked into the first day of practice back in August ready to go, quite possibly more ready than anyone else on the team.
Since that time, Lenzen has done enough to earn the respect of his teammates and his coach, Rob Lezcano.
“I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see this kid grow. He’s opened up more than any kid I’ve known in the last two years. He’s worked so hard and he deserves success,” Lezcano said.
During the first two games of the football season this last month, Lenzen has been on the field almost every play, starting at left tackle on offense and on the defensive line.
Against Williams High on Sept. 4, Lenzen shed his blocker and made his way to the Vikings quarterback and sacked him, dropping him to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
Over the loud speaker, Lenzen was given credit for the sack and fans immediately cheered as Scorpion teammate Champion Max Boehm Reifenkugel raised Lenzen’s arm right there on the field like he just won some heavyweight prize fight.
“I saw all the people cheering and clapping and I knew then it was all worth it,” Lenzen said.
Lenzen’s story is one of heart, determination and pure will which is why the young man has been nominated for the inaugural High School Football Rudy Awards.
Everyone’s seen the movie “Rudy,” a tale about Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who went through difficult times to make a college football team at Notre Dame University.
According to the Web site www.highschoolrudyawards.com, “Rudy stands for ‘Dream Big, Never Quit’ and ‘Always have a Positive Attitude.’”
The award is based on not the most gifted player, or the best stats, but rather it is a search for gridiron athletes who demonstrate what Rudy calls “The Four Cs”: character, courage, contribution and commitment. Passion, inspiration, and motivation are other qualities the award stands for.
In the last two months, Lenzen and his parents have gone through the paperwork, and he has made a few cuts and is one of the last remaining candidates in the country to be in the running for the award.
“I’ve seen the movie and I consider myself lucky to even be mentioned in the process. Rudy did all that work and never played until that last play. It
was an amazing story,” Lenzen said.
Three finalists will be chosen and the winner of the High School Football Rudy Award is given a $20,000 scholarship to his college of choice and gets to meet the real Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger at the awards ceremony Saturday, March 6, 2010.
“In the end, I’m just here to play football and have fun. I’m pleased to be a part of something so special here in Sedona,” Lenzen said.
That attitude is what just might win Lenzen this award.