ZANESVILLE – West Muskingum Head Football Coach Nate Brownrigg prepped his team in practice earlier this week against Bishop Rosecrans. West M may be a team with not a whole lot of wins this year, but a whole lot of heart…literally. Sophomore B.J. Richcreek underwent a heart surgery called a coronary artery unroofing, something many people may not have to face in their entire life before the age of 14.
“It was pretty scary because I had just turned 13 so it was intimidating. I didn’t really know what was going on,” Richcreek said.
The soft-spoken Richcreek loves the gridiron and wasn’t immediately sure if he’d be able to play football again after the surgery. However, immediately following the surgery, the sophomore quickly took steps to get back.
“It just taught me every play can be the last play. My life could end at any time so cherish it,” Richcreek said.
He has a bright outlook on life. He’s always had this goal to play football; always… since peewee. So, I believe he’ll do well. He’s not given up yet, even with what’s he’s been through,” Richcreek’s Grandmother Barbara Stephenson said.
Richcreek is not the only Tornado to deal with his share of adversity. Freshman Rashid Sesay has faced familial circumstances which has led the family of his teammate and close friend Cam Fowler to be a large influence in his life and routine.
“The Fowlers; they help me out. They’ve been helping my family out and all that by like taking me to practice and just helping out which I really appreciate and all that,” Sesay said.
Sesay feels the changes he’s faced are all for the best.
“They’ve changed my life. Honestly, like, I wouldn’t say that I was a bad kid. I just didn’t really care. It changed my attitude; grades and just caring and it’s pretty cool to have a kid the same age as me ,you know, helping me out, because we push each other and it’s been a really big help,” Sesay said.
The Fowlers are more than happy to step into Sesay’s life.
“Rashid is extremely tough, not only mentally but definitely physically. He’s dealt with a lot and he’s taken it in stride and he’s been able to push on and he’s extremely tough,” West Muskingum Parent Jeff Fowler said.
Of course, Coach Nate Brownrigg is thrilled to have both of them on the team and under the Friday night lights.
“Both of these guys are great, great, kids. They’re different personalities. One is a little more outgoing (and) both of them have really bought into the program and worked really hard and had to step up into some big time playing opportunities and playing roles as underclassmen and it’s been really big for us,” Brownrigg said.