Austin Brenner and his miraculous character

Brenner continues to showcase leadership, respect, and inspiration to others


Wesley Seyfang

Brenner continues to defy the odds each day he steps onto the football field.

Mackenzie Pflum, Reporter

Following his epic return to football after last year’s season-ending injury, it was announced on Sept. 19, that quarterback Austin Brenner had won the 31st Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team award. 

Since 1992, this award has been given to athletes and coaches who lead by example on the field and off the field, keeping involved with charitable organizations and service groups, while also maintaining a solid academic position.

A panel of judges consisting of journalists and former winners takes the nominated list of 114 to just 22 finalists. 

Brenner is the third eagle to receive this award following Austin Phillips (2021) and Zach Bernhard (2016).

Head Coach Lee Owens was thrilled to hear another one of his players would be receiving the award, but even more proud of the example these men have set for the culture of the team. 

“For us, we want to be champions on and off the field. That’s what we’re all about,” said Owens. “Having players selected and represent us the way they have is a big deal. It’s a great tribute to our program and the type of players this program attracts.”

Former Ashland Eagle and the first recipient in program history to receive the award, Zach Bernhard, agreed that this program attracts a special type of player and attributes the structure of the program to the players who came before him.

“I feel like the guy’s I grew up watching there built the foundation, the group I was a part of took it to the next level, and the current group is sustaining excellence.”

— Former Eagle Zach Bernhard

Brenner was awarded for his time spent on 3 mission trips, leading youth at Southview Grace Brethren Church, leading bible studies at AU, and much more.

Just a year ago, Austin Phillips, one of Brenner’s best friends, received the same award. Being as close of friends as they are, seeing the announcement that Brenner had won, brought Phillips pure joy.

“He’s probably the most deserving person on the planet,” said Phillips. “The kid always puts others first in every facet of his life.”

For Brenner, this award only comes as an added blessing on top of being able to step on the field this season after breaking his tibia and fibula in a game last season against Ohio Dominican University. 

“This wasn’t even on the table when I was making a decision to come back,” said Brenner. “I didn’t even think this could be a thing. I just feel so thankful.”

Phillips also talked about the positivity and strength Brenner shows day in and day out.

“To think about everything he has gone through in the past 9 months. From a compound tib fib fracture, coming back and playing football games and starting at quarterback,” said Phillips. “It’s an impressive feat and when you loop in everything he does in the community and has always done growing up to this point, he’s very very deserving.”

The Eagle football squad has started their season out 3-0 with Austin at the helm of their offense. When thinking about the full circle of his injury and coming back this season, it means the most to him to have more time spent with the guys on his team.

“We’re just out there having a ton of fun doing it. For me, I’m just incredibly thankful to be back out there on the field with the guys.”

Ashland is set to continue Great Midwest Athletic Conference play this coming Saturday against the Walsh Cavaliers.

Following the regular season, Austin will have the opportunity to represent Ashland at the 2023 Sugar Bowl, along with the other 21 award recipients.