‘A world of difference’

Published 12:45am Sunday, October 7, 2012

This week’s Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week, Nansemond River junior linebacker Marvin Branch, had more than double the nearest vote getter, receiving 451 votes and winning by a 249-vote margin.

All of his defensive heroics against Deep Creek that earned him a nomination would not have been possible, however, if Branch had not taken advice from his father. Originally, Branch focused on basketball, which he still plays as a 6’1 power and small forward.

“My main sport was basketball, but as I got older, my position I play, I can’t really go to college at this size,” he said. “So my dad said I should start playing football, and I came out here and I wasn’t too bad at it.”

Warriors assistant coach Brian Maus remembered things similarly.

“I always knew Marvin just as a basketball player, and he’s a pretty darn good football player,” he said. “He’s a good kid too.”

Branch has been a major force for the Warriors, despite playing for only two prior non-consecutive years.

“I played seventh, and I was going to play eighth-grade year, but I broke my hand at the start of the season,” he said. “And then, I didn’t play my ninth-grade year. Then I picked it up last year, when I was on JV.”

While he has made big plays this season on either side of the football, Branch made the Deep Creek offense miserable last week, first grabbing a blocked punt and scoring on a 43-yard return. He was not sure what he would be allowed to do in that particular situation.

“They punted it, it got blocked, and I just saw it in the air, and I didn’t even know if I could run or not,” he said. “So, I just took it and ran it and if I couldn’t, I figured they would just blow the whistle anyway. So, I just ran and they didn’t blow it, so — touchdown.”

Later in the game, he got between a pass from the Hornets’ quarterback and their tight end and took it 25 yards for another score.

Playing defense is his favorite role, but he has also recently received experience on offense at tight end, slot, and fullback.

Maus explained what he thought is the key to Branch’s success.

“He’s really coachable,” Maus said. “You tell him to do something and (if) he makes a mistake, he corrects it, and just moves on. When you got a kid that just listens and (does) what they’re asked, it just makes a world of difference.”

Branch hopes to get a football scholarship to Old Dominion University. He is driven by the understanding that opposing teams can come between him and this goal, so he has to make an undeniable case for it on the field.

“I just realized I think that people are trying to take it away from me, so I figure that if I go out there and play hard, they can’t take it from me and I’ll be able to achieve my goal,” he said.

His performance last week no doubt helped, and was an important step toward reaching his objectives for this year, as well.

“I want to make first-team all-district and then first-team all-juniors,” he said. “Then, make the playoffs. That’s my main goal. It’s something our school hasn’t done at this level yet.”

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