As he heard his stats read aloud, Natrona County senior Brett Brenton didn’t believe those numbers belonged to him. He was pretty happy with his final high school football season — 207 all-purpose yards per game, a Class 4A-best 28 touchdowns — but he still couldn’t believe it.
Then his father, Billy Brenton, leaned into him.
“This is you,” he said to Brett.
Seconds later the former Mustang running back was announced as Super 25 Offensive Player of the Year at the annual banquet for Wyoming’s top high school football players on Friday night. That award was the culmination of a two-year varsity career that started out on an uncertain note at Cheney Alumni Field.
In his first game as running back, Brenton and the Mustangs rushed for just 64 yards in a 5-0 loss to Cheyenne Central in a soggy, lightning-delayed 2016 opener. Over the course of the next 15 months he became the top running back for the No. 1 offense in Class 4A, which scored a record 545 points this season.
“I’m just very thankful,” Brenton said after Friday’s festivities. “I want to thank my family, my coaches, my five linemen up front. The Offensive Player of the Year, it’s not me, it’s the whole team. They helped me do this and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Brenton finished the season as the premier scorer in 4A. He scored both of Natrona County’s touchdowns in the 2017 state championship game against Sheridan, giving him five in the playoffs alone.
He actually finished with 5 fewer all-purpose yards as a senior than he did the year before, but he only scored 17 times as a junior and felt much more comfortable running behind an experienced line with a season of varsity snaps under his belt.
“Last year I felt safe behind them, kind of,” Brenton said of his offensive line. “This year I felt secure. I knew I could depend on those guys every time and I did. They did great.”
He finished his Natrona County career with 3,454 rushing yards, 552 receiving yards and 978 total return yards.
His desire for the ultimate team statistic, a state championship, wasn’t enough to capture the gold. Sheridan eliminated Natrona County in the title game at War Memorial Stadium last weekend for the second straight season. It was the third year overall that the Broncs eliminated the Mustangs after winning in the 2015 semifinals.
He is the first overall Player of the Year selected from Natrona County since current Wyoming Cowboy Josh Harshman in 2014 and first Offensive Player of the Year from Natrona County since Jim Shellenberger in 2010.
Brenton hoped that his award-winning senior season would not signal the curtain call of his football career. Despite a prolific wrestling career as a Mustang, he still awaits serious college interest in football, which he would much rather pursue.
His size (5 feet, 8 inches and 165 pounds) may not be ideal for most collegiate coaches but he proved to be a workhorse through his combined 521 carries in his two years at starting running back. His lateral quickness proved more elusive than nearly every other back in Wyoming.
In any event, he now focuses on the upcoming wrestling season and the possibility of becoming a three-time state champion. A semifinal loss as a freshman in the 120-pound weight class keeps him from going for four consecutive state titles.
He may enter his final wrestling season with a massive chip on his shoulder if his phone doesn’t starting ringing soon.
“I’m just waiting,” he said. “I guess wrestling is in two weeks and I guess I’m just moving on.”