Crain Brothers Turn Tragedy Into Triumph

Brothers Blain and Jake Crain had a difficult year in 2012 with the death of their father Kurt, but finished it off with a Class 5A state title at a place with so much meaning to their father in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Spanish Fort, Ala.—When the Spanish Fort Toros defeated McAdory for the Class 5A football title at Jordan-Hare Stadium just over a week ago it was an emotional time for senior wide receiver Blain Crain. Not only did the season culminate in the ultimate reward for a high school football player, it capped off the most difficult year of his life.

The son of former Auburn football great Kurt Crain, Blain was preparing for his final year of spring football when the news came that his father had died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. That news was devastating for a close family and it was the kind of news that made Spanish Fort Coach Mark Freeman realize just how important he could be in the coming hours and months for not only Blain, but also older brother Jake.

"I knew Kurt for 20 years," Freeman said. "When Kurt passed away one of the first things we did was go find Blain. He's so much like I was in high school because my daddy died when I was 13 years old. My high school coach was a guy that took me under his wing. My high school coach to this day doesn't know how much he meant to me.

"Once we got Blain under control we immediately knew we needed to find Jake. That family was a loyal, tight family. I asked Blain how he would feel if we asked Jake to help us. We needed Jake and Jake needed us. Blain told me he loved the idea. We got him in here and let me tell you something, Jake Crain is going to be a great coach. Jake does all of our special teams and coaches our linebackers."

Blain and Jake Crain celebrate the state title

With the Crain brothers focused on football the Toros hit the ground running in 2012 with a big win over Daphne in the season opener, but things would get more trying for the team in the coming weeks as star receiver Deon Johnson was suspended after two off-the-field incidents. That meant an even bigger role for Crain and one he knew he needed to take on for his team.

"At the beginning of the year we felt good at receiver," Blain Crain said. "We were decent high school players, but when D.J. was gone I felt like I had to step up a lot. We kept things up and kept going. My year is all on Joel Poe throwing me the ball and the other receivers getting open, too."

With great hands and a knack for getting open, Crain caught 50 passes for 820 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season. In the 45-14 win over McAdory he added five grabs for 48 more yards to walk off the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium a winner in his last high school game.

"It feels great," Blain Crain said. "There is nothing like it. It's a rush. It's something you work for so hard, but you never think it will happen. This team has gone through so much. We lost one of our best players, but we kept our head down and kept trucking along. We did it."

At 6-2, 180 pounds, Crain noted he's getting interest from several colleges at the moment and all he wants is a chance to continue his football career. "I have a couple of schools looking at me," he said. "I really want to go play college football. I love football. It's the only thing I know. Alcorn State has offered me. I have a couple of other schools looking at me as well.

"I would definitely be interested in Auburn," he added. "Louisiana-Lafayette and Troy are also showing some interest. Anywhere I can go play is fine with me. I just want to get the pigskin in my hand."

While Blain is trying to continue his playing career, for Jake it has been a chance to get back into coaching. As a student at South Alabama he helped out the Jaguars while going to school before deciding to make a change. This season provided him a chance to get back into something he loves and Freeman said he wants to see that continue.

"Sometimes God does some funny things," Freeman said. "I was going to reach out to Blain because Kurt would have done it for me, but in return what I got was a great coach who loves the kids and loves the game.

"If I can get him back in school, and even if I have to help him pay for it where can teach kids and make a living, then I'll be glad to have Jake around here."

No matter where their football careers take them there will always be one special moment when Blain and Jake Crain were reunited with their dad on the football field. The fact that it came at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a place that meant so much to Kurt and the family, was something that wasn't lost on Blain as he reflected on the moment.

"It's huge," Crain said. "To end my high school career at Jordan-Hare Stadium with my brother here, there is nothing better. When I stepped on the field I could feel my dad with me and behind me on every play. I give all the glory to God and to my dad because without them I don't think I could have done this."

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