On his team’s first offensive play, Brendan Krug stayed on the sideline.
That was one way of honoring his friend.
On every ensuing offensive play, Krug found somebody to block.
That was another.
“I definitely used a lot of my emotion in this game,” said Krug, a junior for the La Salle High School football team. “I really wanted to try to do as well as I could.”
For all the Explorers, Friday night’s 35-27 win over Manheim Township in the season opener was weighted with extra emotion. The team was playing for the first time since the loss of senior Isaiah Turner, who collapsed and died after practice Sept. 4.
There was a moment of silence before the game. There were the commemorative decals on the back of each player’s helmet. There was the Missing Man formation on the first offensive play, with the Explorers taking the field with 10 athletes and leaving open Turner’s left guard position
But for Krug, there was another layer: He was thrust into duty as La Salle’s new left guard, replacing the teammate he regarded as a “brother” long before tragedy struck earlier this month.
“He was my brother,” Krug said. “I would always hang out with him during free periods. He would help me with school. He would help me with everything. It was really nice.”
Like Turner, Krug had switched from defense to offense after last season. They both were learning to play along the offensive line during summer workouts.
“He would help me with everything,” Krug said. “He was just a great guy. I had not really played [offensive line] before. Maybe some in 8th grade and Pee-Wee football. But I asked to move over, before the passing of ‘Zay’ and it played out like this.”
La Salle coach John Steinmetz focuses on the Explorers' defense but figured Krug must have played well in his debut as an offensive lineman.
“We ran the ball well tonight so I’m going to assume he did very well,” Steinmetz said. “He’s the kind of kid who really wants to play. He’s tough.”
La Salle junior Sam Brown, who ran for 166 yards and scored four touchdowns, credited the offensive line, especially the team’s new left guard.
“Krug, that’s one of my guys,” Brown said. “He’s stepping up. This is going to be his first year starting and he’s doing a good job. It’s going to be a big year for him.”
Krug, who lives in Perkasie, said he was honored to stand on the sideline for the first offensive play, allowing the focus to be Turner’s absence.
But he was proud to take the field as well, and to play his hardest in memory of his friend.