The topic is reading and since Lawrence High senior Kharon Brown loves to read and loves to talk it’s no surprise that once he starts talking about reading, he can’t stop.
“I just finished re-reading for the third time, ‘Thirteen Reasons Why,’ by Jay Asher,” Brown said. “It’s really good for me because it’s one of those books where you just get ingrained in it and forget everything else.”
The novel geared toward young adults centers on audio tapes a 16-year-old girl made in advance of her suicide.
“Of course, like all readers, I love the Harry Potter series and the Eragon series,” Brown said. “Those are really good. I read a book about Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy and books about football coaches. I like to mix up what I read, going from fiction to non-fiction.”
He reads the classics when assigned by teachers, but just once.
“Probably the Iliad and the Odyssey and the Aeneid are the only ones I’d re-read,” Brown said. “Mostly because of the violence, really. I’m a guy. Violence.”
He exercises that part of his personality relentlessly every Friday night for the Lawrence High football team that plays host Friday to Free State in a clash between 7-1 teams.
Brown seldom comes off the field, anchoring both the offensive and defensive lines, and nobody has a louder presence in the weight room, where Brown’s name can be found listed on a few records. Bench: 360 pounds; squat: 500 pounds; clean: 300 pounds.
Give Brown a topic and he’ll talk about it. Give his coaches Brown as a topic and they love talking as much as he does.
“He’s got so much energy,” Lions coach Dirk Wedd said. “He’s got a really hot motor and he’s just a joy to be around. Talks all the time. Smiles all the time. His mom has done an unbelievable job of raising him. He’s just a special kid. Academics are important to him. He’s a yes-sir, no-sir kid. It’s been fun coaching him.”
Brown is a key part of a talented senior class that as freshmen watched LHS go 1-8 when Wedd was picking for-sale signs off his front lawn.
Quarterback Brad Strauss, running back Tyrone Jenkins, and receivers Drake Hofer, Erick Mayo and Will Thompson represent the speed and skill of a class that has made that 1-8 season seem so far away.
Brown’s the rock of the defense.
“If we didn’t have him, we’d be in dire straits,” Wedd said. “Defensively, he anchors that middle, and like everybody knows, we’ve got a wide receiver playing one defensive tackle and a small kid playing the other one, and he kind of adds that toughness and big-play ability in the middle. And it frees up our linebackers because you’ve got to double-team him. If you don’t, he’ll make tackles all night.”
Brown thoroughly enjoyed the Lions’ 20-0 upset victory against Free State last season, but is not naive as to what the memory of that will do for Free State.
“You don’t want to get caught in a bad position like they did last year in underestimating us and our physicality, and we skunked them,” Brown said. “We have to play as if they’re the best team in the state. I have no doubt in my mind they’re going to come out just the same as we did last year with a chip on their shoulders, just wanting to tear us apart.”
On the LHS sideline, where No. 50 seldom can be found because he’s almost always in the game, the memory of Free State’s five-game series winning streak that ended last season remains fresh, so motivation shouldn’t be a problem for either side.