Perhaps the biggest moment of Braylon Heard’s football career was a play he hadn’t attempted since middle school.
Lined up in the Cardinal Mooney backfield, Heard received a handoff from quarterback Alex Zordich. But instead of bursting through a running lane per usual, Heard tossed a perfect pass to Donald D’Alesio for an 8-yard touchdown pass.
The played sealed a 35-7 victory in the Division III state championship came, giving Mooney its seventh such honor. A Heard interception on Mooney’s next defensive series capped off his senior season and an impressive football career.
“I kept thinking that I hadn’t done this in a long time” Heard said of the play. “When I saw the guy kind of had bitten on the run, I just threw it and was like, ‘you’ve got to catch this.’”
And D’Alesio did.
Heard had perhaps his finest performance on the biggest stage this season. In addition to the passing touchdown, Heard had 178 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Add in the pick on defense and Heard could’ve been a unanimous pick for player of the game. He was named Co-Offensive Player of the Year in Division III.
“It was great,” Heard said. “We played them [Columbus St. Francis DeSales] earlier in the year and it was a tough game, so we were thinking we’d have to play even harder this game.”
DeSales counted as two of the Cardinals’ 15 victories this season.
Heard said he’ll miss the feeling he gets when he steps on the field for the Cardinals.
“When I put the pads on, it’s a great feeling,” he said.
But his football experience and ties to Mooney won’t end when he graduates this spring. Heard will attend the University of Nebraska next fall and play for the Cornhuskers under head coach Bo Pelini, and running backs coach Tim Beck – both are Mooney graduates.
“I think it’s just a bonus [to have a coach from Mooney],” he said. “They’re from Mooney and they know where I come from and what I’m all about.”
Heard said his only advice for the younger players is to work hard.
“If you work hard, it’ll take you to where you want to be,” he said.