By Kevin Eickman
Sometimes we forget how fragile life can be. The Milford football family received a reminder this summer when Brandon LeGrand tragically passed away in a motorcycle accident. LeGrand, the loving father of four children left much too soon. He is a Buccaneers legend and will soon be a Hall of Fame Inductee. On September 13, The 12th Man Gridiron Club will hold its annual induction ceremony. While LeGrand may not be there to celebrate the moment, his spirit and memory will be in the air that night at Briggs Stadium.
LeGrand’s freshman season gave little indication of the greatness that awaited. Used mostly on defense, he was limited as a running back. Speaking with his mother Wanda Legrand, she did not see it coming either. “Playing football was always his passion and he was pretty good at it. After his freshman season though, it was like a light came on,” LeGrand said. “He really figured out how good he could be at it. Once he committed himself to it, he just took off. Even I couldn’t believe it.”
LeGrand took off to the tune of 3,777 rushing yards and led the Buccaneers to their one and only D-II State Championship in 2008. One of the keys for LeGrand’s commitment was the guidance of assistant coach Curtis Gore, who mentored LeGrand. “Coach Gore was a huge help to Brandon, he really got him to focus on the game and get the best out of himself,” LeGrand stated.
Speaking with Jack Simon, who was an assistant coach on that team, it came down to just one thing for him. “He was someone that was just born to run with the football,” Simon stated. “You could see it in his eyes, he just really wanted the ball. It wasn’t in a greedy sort of way, it was just his love of the game and what he could do within it.”
Perhaps his greatest game as a Buccaneer came in the 2008 State semi-final game played at Briggs Stadium. The stands were filled to capacity on what started out as a comfortable November evening with warm-ups conducted under near balmy conditions for late November. After the teams retreated to locker rooms however, a cold front moved through leaving a coating of snow on the field and a chill in the air. The Milford faithful stayed through the contest however as LeGrand put on a show. He rushed for over 300 yards on just 21 carries while recording four touchdowns as Milford defeated Wilmington Friends 45-14. The Buccaneer fans cheered relentlessly. “That game against Friends will always stand out in my mind,” former coach Mike Tkach said. “We were a little nervous before the game but as soon as we saw what level Brandon was playing at that night, we knew we were going to win easily.”
No running back does it alone, the offensive line that season was solid. Speaking with LeGrand’s teammate Zach Gonzalez, it was obvious that it was more than just football with Brandon. “He was just a great guy and a great teammate. He wore his emotions on his sleeve and sometimes he would be upset if he did not score a touchdown when he thought he should have,” commented Gonzalez. “The thing about Brandon was, he was only hard on himself. If one of us missed a block, he didn’t say a word, that made us work even harder for him. If you want to remember one thing about Brandon is that he always wanted to have fun. He enjoyed being around his teammates and always wanted people to be happy.”
His mother echoed the sentiment. “He was always about helping other people, he wanted them to feel good and he always wanted them to feel good. It didn’t matter who you were his heart always had room for you. No matter what you needed, no matter what kind of help someone needed he was always there for them.”
On September 13, Brandon’s four children Jamiah, Gianna, Joshua and Braelyn will accept the award on his behalf. When asked about Brandon’s thoughts about being named to the Hall of Fame, his mother shared how proud he was. “It was something he was so excited about, he loved Milford football and to receive an honor like this made him so happy.”
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