Lassiter senior linebacker Brett Carr and senior defensive lineman Brandon Brown are close friends with one unique thing in common.
Both are allergic to peanuts.
Carr was too young to remember the one time he consumed a food product that had peanuts in it. He was a year old and his throat glands swelled, making it difficult to breathe, but he overcame the reaction.
Since then, Carr has been peanut-free.
Many football programs — Lassiter included — are known to stockpile peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while practicing in the blistering summer heat, because it is the one sandwich whose contents do not spoil. Instead of the sandwiches, Carr and Brown eat peanut-free protein bars.
“I don’t know what’s in it, to be honest,” Carr said. “I just know that it doesn’t have peanuts, and I don’t have reactions to it.”
Brown’s throat would also swell up should he eat a peanut, but his reaction is more severe. If he does not get a shot from an EpiPen, his life would be at risk.
Fortunately for Brown, he has never been in a life-threatening situation from eating peanut-related substances, but there was one close call during a Lassiter practice last year.
“I probably came close to making a big mistake with Brandon one time because I try to go out of my way to give them something a little different,” Lassiter coach Sean Thom said. “I’m terrible at looking at ingredients, and I thought it said no nuts, but apparently it had one in there he is definitely allergic to, but he caught it.”
A chocolate chip protein bar has become a great substitute for Brown, but should he stumble upon a bar that is unfamiliar, he has a lifelong and life saving habit of checking the ingredients.
In order to cut down on studying wrappers, Brown usually stays away from candy bars. He prefers cookies should he have a sweet tooth.
Having a peanut allergy often draws attention from teammates, and it sometimes leads to some harmless teasing when they are eating something different from everyone else, but neither one takes offense.
“They like to make fun of us because we have to eat something different than what they eat,” Brown said. “We just laugh along with it. There’s nothing else you really can do.”
The peanut allergy is not the only thing the two friends have in common.
Both players have roles on Lassiter’s offense and defense. They both work out at a strength and conditioning facility near the school, and when they are not playing football on the field, they are usually playing football in its video game format.
Both are also determined to bring Lassiter back to its winning ways following consecutive 1-9 seasons.
Carr is expected to have a bigger role at linebacker this season after finishing with 26 tackles and one fumble recovery last season. He will also help carry the load in the offensive backfield.
Brown, who is described as “relentless” by Thom, is the starting center for the Trojans this season. Defensively, he will likely play defensive tackle.
“They are two of our best leaders, and, obviously, when I talk about our leadership committee as being rising seniors, they are very realistic,” Thom said. “They understand what the expectation is, but, more than that, they have goals themselves. Everything aligns very nicely with my vision.”