The two common themes that seem to punctuate every story about Bruton High's Bryan Randall are his indomitable will to win and his remarkable athleticism. Bobby Hedrick, Tabb's All-Bay Rivers District defensive back, witnessed both traits on a single play the night Randall blitzed the Tigers for 317 yards of total offense (149 passing, 168 rushing) and four running touchdowns in leading the
to a 35-7 victory.
"The thing I remember most is him running all the way across the field twice, then coming out of a pile and scoring a touchdown while at least six of our jerseys were sprawled across the field," Hedrick said. "I said, 'Oh my God!'
"The words may change, but the sentiment of Hedrick's latter phrase is echoed often when coaches or players discuss Randall, the Daily Press Male High School Athlete of the Year. During the 1999-2000 school year, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior generated gasps of wonder, whether he was eluding tacklers on the football field or making a no-look pass on the basketball court.
On the gridiron, Randall, the Panthers' quarterback, ran for 1,038 yards and 16 touchdowns, while passing for 1,398 yards and 11 TDs. No other high school player in state history had ever both run and passed for 1,000 yards in a single season before Randall accomplished the feat.
History aside, Randall may have been even more impressive on defense, where he recorded a district-high 146 tackles, including a couple of highlight-reel hits per game.
Randall followed his memorable fall by leading the Panthers to a 26-3 record and the first state Group AA boys basketball title in school history. The point guard averaged 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 4.8 steals per game in earning state AA Player of the Year honors from the writers (Associated Press), coaches (VHSCA) and fans (VAPreps.com).
But more than numbers or honors, Randall left a host of indelible impressions on those he played for or against. Waynesboro basketball coach Tim Teachey was one of those. Teachey's Little
were ranked first in the state and were favored to win the title before Randall tallied 27 points, seven assists and eight steals to lead the visiting Panthers to a 78-69 upset in a state quarterfinal.
"We thought we would probably be able to defense just about anybody, but he refused to let them lose," Teachey said. "We were up by nine points in the third quarter and he made two 3-point shots in a row. Physically, he's the strongest kid we faced. When he gets in a matchup, he's usually physically able to manhandle the other kid."
Teachey's Little Giants had forged much of their success by trapping and pressuring opposing point guards into lots of turnovers. Panthers coach Scott Joyner said he never worried about Waynesboro's pressure because of Randall, who committed just two turnovers before a hostile crowd of about 3,000."
Bryan has a very high basketball IQ," Joyner said. "He doesn't always try to break pressure by himself, but he always makes sure we get the ball in an area where we can execute our offense. He can beat you in so many ways - setting up others, scoring himself or with his defense.
"Oft times, Randall's will is as big a factor in a Bruton victory as his talent. Like Teachey and others, Tabb basketball coach Doug Baggett talks about Randall's "need to win." Baggett adds that Randall has the ability, similar to NBA star
fromBethel High, "to get the job done when it needs to be done.
"Baggett is reluctant to compare Randall to Iverson talent-wise as a basketball player. Area football coaches have no such qualms, however, about comparing the Bruton star to area prep gridiron legends.
"He's the type of player
was," said Tabb coach Charlie Hovis. "Terry knew all of the linemen's blocking assignments and where the alleys to run to would be. This kid does the same thing. Both have that sense of what to do and how to run.
"Kirby, who was coached by Hovis in high school, now plays for the
Randall is characterized most as a runner by how tough he is to bring down. Poquoson coach Don Ward said he has never seen a runner so difficult to wrap up. "It's like he's stepping out of a hula hoop. He's in the same category with (former area prep quarterbacks)
(of North Carolina) and
(of Virginia Tech)."
Hovis, who also coached current
, said Randall has the first-step speed and the quickness big-time college football programs seek. Panthers football coach Kyle Neve agrees.
"He has that combination of quickness and speed, with both his hands and feet, that sets the good athletes apart from the average ones," Neve said. "What impresses me most, though, are the intangibles - his leadership, poise and intelligence. The amazing thing is that he's only 16 years old. As great an athlete as he is, he's more mentally mature than he is physically.
"Randall, who sports a 3.6 grade-point average, will have to call on that maturity beginning next month, when such big-time football powers as Virginia Tech and Tennessee come calling on him. As he improves on the hardwood, more and more high-profile programs will seek his services as well.
Like Curry, Randall says he'd like to try both sports on the collegiate level, at least at first. Neve says that wherever Randall goes and whatever he does, he'll be successful.