Brandon Legrand, a former Milford High School football player who set a school rushing record and led the team to a 2008 state championship, died July 14 in a motorcycle crash.
His former coach remembers him as one of the best running backs in state history.
“He's one of the best running backs I've ever been around,” said Mike Tkach, former Milford High School head coach and now assistant coach at Cape High. “Realistically, I would say he's in the top five in the state.”
At 6-foot-1-inches tall and 185 pounds, Legrand was a powerhouse on the field. He was the kind of player one wanted on their team. The 2010 Milford High School graduate rushed 3,777 yards during his three years on varsity – an all-time school record. He finished his high school career with 410 carries and 53 touchdowns. In the state championship game in which the Buccaneers beat Laurel High School 20-0, Legrand rushed 225 yards, had 34 carries and two touchdowns – one on a 68-yard run. His combined total for two playoff games was 544 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
“Brandon was one of those running backs who had a second gear. He would wiggle his way through and when he got to the linebackers you could see it, he would move to another level. He could just blow away from people,” Tkach said. “What he did on the football field was incredible.”
Milford football fans were thrilled to watch his feats while young football players idolized Brandon as a role model. He never disappointed, Tkach said.
But with all his talent and prestige, Legrand was always humble and a joy to coach, Tkach said. He was a real team player, throwing blocks for his teammates and doing the little things that make a difference in a game of possession. All the coaches loved working with him, and even though he was surrounded by talent, Tkach said, Legrand still put the team on his back and made things happen. “He was so much fun to work with,” he said.
Tkach describes Legrand as an old-school player who wore regular white long johns under his uniform, instead of today's sleek Under Armour cold-weather gear. “But he ran like crazy,” Tkach said.
Tkach said he'll always remember Legrand's striking green eyes and his wonderful smile. It's the smile he wore after every touchdown, and after every touchdown, Tkach said, Legrand always ran through the back of the end zone before turning around and giving the official the football. Then he would jog back to the bench with his characteristic smile. “Brandon was a kind-hearted kid,” he said. “He was so laid-back and as simple as can be in a good way. He would do anything for anybody.”
Legrand went on to play as a starting running back his freshman year at Wesley College, and later became a truck driver. Tkach said he had a good future ahead of him.
“He was doing very well for himself, and I was very proud of him,” he said. “There was so much more to him than the football player.”
Two weeks ago, Tkach said, board members of Milford’s Hall of Fame voted to induct Legrand. It's an honor now bittersweet. “He'll be inducted during Milford's first home game this season,” Tkach said.
Tkach said the football community still talks about Legrand's impact on the field, and long after the news of the 28-year-old’s tragic death while riding his Harley-Davidson near Greenwood fades, those memories and his records will remain.
“It was a huge loss when I got that phone call in the morning,” Tkach said. “He definitely made an impact on our little community in Milford, and he'll definitely be remembered for a long time.”