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Knee surgery to sideline Apollo-Ridge’s Brown

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, April 6, 2016 8:42 p.m
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Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Apollo-Ridge's Duane Brown (5) gains yardage against Deer Lakes' Nino Itri (5) during the second half Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, at Deer Lakes.
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Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Apollo-Ridge's Duane Brown (5) pumps up the crowd during the second half Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, at Deer Lakes.
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Apollo-Ridge's Duane Brown (5) dodges a tackle by Deer Lakes' Justin Everetts (23) during the first half Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, at Deer Lakes.

Apollo-Ridge star football player Duane Brown’s senior season could be in jeopardy after he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee during a seven-on-seven practice with a travel team out of Pittsburgh.

Brown said initial test results showed he could miss up to nine months. But a doctor with whom he sought a second opinion told him a five-month return is not out of the question.

“That’s with hard, aggressive therapy,” Brown said of rehab for an injury that occurred March 17 but wasn’t diagnosed until later. “I am just trying to get through this and move forward.”

Either way, a long shadow has been cast over the career of one of the WPIAL’s top returning players. Brown, a junior running back and defensive back, said he will have surgery April 20.

Training camps open Aug. 15. The WPIAL season begins Aug. 26.

“When I first heard (what happened) I was glad I was sitting down, I know that,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “It’s a punch to the gut you’re not prepared for, especially in the offseason.”

Brown said he’ll rehab three to four days a week, in school and with a physical therapist. He has begun stretching with the trainer.

“When the first doctor told me, ‘Your season’s over,’ ” Brown said, “I said, ‘That’s not an option.’ I am going to play in a game next season, whether it’s the first or last one, I don’t know.”

Brown has one Division I scholarship offer, from Robert Morris. His path to Division I football has been stunted, but Skiba said he has begun discussing with Brown other ways to get him to the next level, including prep school and junior college routes.

“I talked to his doctor and our trainer, and they are very positive,” Skiba said. “(Brown) still has a lot of strength and muscle tone (around the knee), and his flexibility is good. We just don’t want to rush him back and put his future at risk. I know he doesn’t want to hear that.”

Despite missing three games with a concussion, Brown rushed for 1,590 yards and 30 touchdowns last season to earn Valley News Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year.

He broke the WPIAL single-game rushing record with 460 yards and eight touchdowns against Deer Lakes.

Brown has 60 career touchdowns and more than 3,000 rushing yards.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor for the Valley News Dispatch edition of the Tribune-Review. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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