MORGANTOWN — This couldn’t be the end of the season.
At least not for Noah Braham, the University High School football standout, the leader of the Hawks and a West Virginia University recruit.
But there Braham was on opening night, of all nights, on the turf at John Marshall High School with an injury.
“At that point, I knew I wanted to be back on the field,” Braham, who suffered a severe ankle injury, said. “I had to kind of trust the process and make sure I was 100 percent.”
Braham had been in this position before. Just last year, as a junior, he suffered a leg injury that resulted in losing the second half of the season. A season that saw the Hawks finish the regular season undefeated before losing in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs. A win in that contest would have meant Braham’s return to the field. Instead, he was forced to wait until 2022.
Back to that August night this year and it wasn’t just Braham that was affected, it was the entire UHS team.
“We were very fortunate to win that game at John Marshall,” UHS head coach John Kelley said. “Because everything came apart (after Braham’s injury). We were in total command of the game until that point. When he went out, we were looking for something. It was a scramble to get through that game.”
The Hawks were left scrambling the following week as well as without one of their best players, they were dropped 78-14.
“I don’t know what effect it had on us at Parkersburg South,” Kelley said. “I don’t know if we were stunned, but we were still piecing things together.”
Two weeks later, Braham made his return in a 55-33 loss to Wheeling Park. In that contest, he finished with five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown. UHS held a 20-7 lead in the game before a few key
mistakes against the Patriots proved costly.
University hasn’t suffered a loss since.
“Prior to that Wheeling Park game, I was so happy to be back on the field,” Braham said. “I was having so much fun. It was a great time.”
Since that loss to the Patriots, UHS (6-2) has rolled to four straight wins with Braham back on offense as a featured tight end/wide receiver and on defense as a jack of all trades where he has played linebacker, defensive end and even safety.
UHS is averaging 34.3 points per game in the contests that Braham has played and allowing
18.0 ppg in those same games.
“He is an impactful player,” Kelley said. “We have had to play him out of position at times, but he can get after the quarterback, tackle and he can run. A lot of people don’t realize how well he runs for as big as he is. We didn’t have that early in the season.”
Even now, Kelley said Braham isn’t 100%. What player is eight games into the season?
On Friday at 8 p.m., Braham and the Hawks will try to do something that the Hawks haven’t done since 2014 — win a second-straight game against cross-town rival Morgantown.
“My expectation is to play against kids I have played against my whole life,” Braham said. “I think it’s going to be a really good football game. A win on Friday would mean a lot. Senior year is an important year, it would increase our chances of a home playoff game.”
And next year, Braham will be at WVU where his father, Rich, became an All-American offensive lineman. But Noah said he didn’t feel any pressure to play for the Mountaineers.
“I have been recruited by (WVU) since after my freshman season,” Braham said. “I love the coaches and the atmosphere. It was a goal of mine to play collegiately, I wanted to play at the next level. To play where my dad played, playing for my hometown team is going to be special.”
— BY ERIC HERTER