Chestnut Hill Academy's Dones has no fear going into Eagles City All-Star Football Classic
IN HIS SPARE time, not that he has much, perhaps Brian Dones writes inspirational speeches. On Tuesday, in the NovaCare Complex' indoor facility, with "Daily News Live" being aired in the southwest corner, one had to wonder after listening to Andy Reid address the kids who'll bang heads tomorrow, 2 p.m., at Lincoln Financial Field in the 37th annual Philadelphia Eagles City All-Star Football Classic (broadcast on tape delay at 8 p.m. on WIP (610-AM) ).
IN HIS SPARE time, not that he has much, perhaps Brian Dones writes inspirational speeches.
On Tuesday, in the NovaCare Complex' indoor facility, with "Daily News Live" being aired in the southwest corner, one had to wonder after listening to Andy Reid address the kids who'll bang heads tomorrow, 2 p.m., at Lincoln Financial Field in the 37th annual Philadelphia Eagles City All-Star Football Classic (broadcast on tape delay at 8 p.m. on WIP (610-AM) ).
In a short address that was simultaneously low-key, yet passionate, Reid told the players to "fear nothing" and "attack everything."
Standing nearby was Dones, a 5-6, 145-pound cornerback from Chestnut Hill Academy and a proud member of the Non-Public squad.
Fear nothing. Attack everything. Hey, doesn't Dones own the patent on those two directives?
Non-Public coach Rick Knox, also of CHA, was telling a story about the 2007 season, when Dones was a 5-foot, 98-pound freshman. The Blue Devils were scrimmaging the Hun School (N.J.) and Dones got a chance to run the ball.
"They had a kid at safety," Knox said, "who stood about 6-4 and was clearly going to be highly recruited. Brian tried to run him over. He came back to the huddle completely dazed and I was like, 'What are you doing?'
"He just didn't know any different. Even at that point as a 98-pound freshman, that was how he played. Ever since, he has been an unbelievable example to all the kids in our program. When you look at him, you don't expect what he gives. But he gives it again and again."
Dones (dough-nezz) got his football start at age 6, when his father, Jose, a first-team Daily News All-City outfielder for Jules Mastbaum Tech in 1986 (and now a Philadelphia police officer), signed him up for the Somerton Youth Organization.
There was no discussion. Brian was also tossed into baseball and basketball, "but he put me into football because he figured it would toughen me up."
If it didn't end his life.
"My dad always said, 'Play hard and don't be scared of anything. You have pads on,' " Brian said. "I took that to heart. He always told me it was the kids who play timid who get hurt. Any time someone has told me I'm too small to do something, I've wanted to prove them wrong. When you're my size, you have to play with a little chip on your shoulder.
"When you're going against a kid who's 6-3, sure, there's a certain intimidation factor. You just have to keep telling yourself, 'I can do this.' And most of time, you can."
As you might expect, Dones' mother, Marysol, was not exactly entrenched in the play-football corner.
"My mom was fearful at first," he said. "But then it got to the point where she knew I was going to play no matter what. She wasn't going to stop me."
He laughed. "Plus, once she knew I liked it, she knew my dad wouldn't take me out of it."
Dones is still involved with baseball, also. In fact, he's the Blue Devils' starting second baseman and has long been known for his pepperpot ways. Playing baseball and preparing for the football tilt have required major time and effort, but at least his school demands have lessened.
CHA's seniors are involved in projects and Dones is stationed right nearby, on Germantown Avenue, in a training facility. He's working under football assistant Aaron Sistrunk and finds himself doing everything from overseeing sessions to helping with advertising/marketing.
"We're supposed to do something we could picture doing later in life," Dones said. "I could see doing this, but maybe just business."
During Tuesday's session, the N-P occupied the north end of the odiferous turf facility (anyone hear of Febreze?) while the Public squad remained in the south. Also speaking with the N-P team was honorary coach Juan Castillo, the Eagles' defensive coordinator whose son, Greg, was a star d-back at St. Joseph's Prep and now plays at Iowa.
Dones will next play football at Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn. First things first, however.
"I'm expecting at least 20 family members at this game," he said, "and my dad is talking about having some kind of tailgate party.
"Being picked to play was great, but it's even better that my coaches at CHA are involved and I'm getting to be around them one last time. I know a lot of the Catholic League guys, and it's exciting to be with them, too."
By the way, Dones' only sibling, Jason, is a freshman at Archbishop Ryan.
"He played freshman and JV ball last fall," Brian said. "Now we're a football family."
Fear nothing. Attack everything . . .
And this is no small addition: Ignore all naysayers and embrace what makes you happy. *