By David Tuma
Two football standouts for both the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Belton High School have been together for years. It isn’t very often that two players were born in the same hospital, on the same day, and just hours apart.
When the families of Brodrick Crane and Tim Bower came to see them at Scott and White Hospital the two Belton Tigers were in nursery, at the same time, almost side by side. Little did anybody realize the pair was to terrorize high school football teams their senior season 18-years later.
“We were born hours apart and we were in the same nursery together,” said Crain.
“We have had a lot of classes together over the years and I didn’t find out about all this till a year or so ago when my mom told me about it,” said Bower.
Crain, one of the best cornerbacks in Belton Tigers history, has started for three years at UMHB and runs a legitimate 4.32. He moved to Belton in the fifth grade and the pair had several classes together in the fifth grade.
“I hated Belton at first. All my friends were in Temple but my mom was right, it was the right move,” said Crain.
They played on the same seventh grade team in junior high. They remember the roof leaking all the time and Lache Seastrunk being the same height he is now.
“That junior high facility was nasty,” said Crain. “We were good and didn’t lose a game in district. Lache played for Travis and he was very good back them.”
Both smiled when asked about beating Temple on national television and shutting down one of the best running backs in country that year.
“Our defense came to play in that game. All our players were a tight group. They hadn’t divided up the junior highs like they do now. We cared about each other and were just very close,” said Bower.
“That whole team had a special feeling and we held each other accountable,” said Crain.
Belton that year on defense was ranked in the top ten in 5A, held A&M Consolidated to one first down in the entire game and held Cove to their lowest point total (3) at Cove’s home field since 1995. They won Belton’s first and only 5A district championship with a dominating defense.
The pair have that Tigers feeling… like the quick honest smile Cody Fredenburg had when he came over to speak with Crain and me when we were waiting for Bower to get out of class. It is just a Belton Tiger thing and Cody understands. Like the text messages grey haired football players send to classmates from a big game to ex-players who live nowhere near where they once grew up. It’s a Texas football thing that few understand.
“I still talk to Cooper Smith and Jeff LePak every day,” said Bower. What he might or might not understand is that connection with the Tigers football team he played on will carry over time and space.
What both players have seen is the drastic improvements at both Belton High School and UMHB in terms of facilities.
“At both schools we have seen huge improvements in terms of facilities. Belton had no facilities and the improvements were major,” said Crain. “The new stadium we have is fantastic and it has the feel of Division 1 game. The fans at UMHB are awesome,” said Bower.
Like many of the football players from Belton who are playing at the college level they know that what they were taught at the high school level gave them a huge advantage over some of the competition at the college level in terms of competing for a starting spot.
“Belton got us ready for college. They teach at a college level in terms of coverages, work out techniques and training. You don’t realize how many guys at the high school level don’t have the same advantages we have till you get out,” said Crain. “We have a good chance at a national championship this year if we can keep the turnovers down.”