No one ever told Andrew Brister that it would be easy playing quarterback at Neville High School.
In fact, Brister may argue his family prepared him for the opposite.
When Neville fans learned that local legend Bubby Brister’s boy was transferring to Neville as a junior, the excitement grew organically around the community. And why wouldn’t it? We’re talking about Bubby Brister, who played high school and college in Monroe before playing quarterback for six different NFL teams. The “Brister” name comes with lofty expectations.
“Coming in, it was a little strange seeing his picture on the wall and stuff,” Andrew Brister said. “I haven’t had to deal with all that a bunch, though. I do have high expectations, but I put that on myself. Whatever anybody else puts on me, I don’t really listen to them. My family helps a lot with that also.”
Andrew Brister, who at 6’5” received an offer from ULM in late 2018, has had to overcome more than just living up to his last name. After sharing time at quarterback with Jordan Thomas in 2018, Brister had to overcome an ankle injury months before the 2019 season began. Brister had the “tightrope surgery,” which is the same procedure Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had this week after injuring his ankle against Tennessee.
Brister’s injury took away valuable reps in the summer and preseason.
“I was actually out a little bit longer than I wanted to be, and all of this was going on when the season was approaching,” Brister said. “The procedure is wild that you can recover so fast from it.”
Brister got back in time to start against Ruston and struggled with four interceptions. Still, the Tigers found a way to win and begin the season with a perfect 3-0 record. Among those wins was a 38-35 instant classic against Ouachita, where Brister completed 10-of-18 passes for 81 yards and two scores.
Adversity hit the following two weeks, though. The Tigers were stymied offensively against No. 1 St. Thomas More (Div. II) and No. 3 West Monroe (5A). The Tigers were held to just 20 points in the back-to-back losses.
If West Monroe and St. Thomas More defenses shook up Neville’s offense in consecutive weeks, the Tigers exploded like a 2-liter coke on district foes Franklin Parish and Minden. Brister threw for 94 yards and three scores against the Patriots before completing 81 percent of his passes against Minden.
“When we started off the season, we knew our first five games were going to be like a gauntlet,” Brister said. “I think the offense has progressively gotten better. I work with my receivers every weekend.”
After scoring 41 points against the Patriots, the Tigers produced 34 points against a Minden defense that allowed 40 total points over the span of the five previous ballgames. Even more impressive, the Tigers did it on the road last Friday.
“It started with a good game plan,” Brister said. “We’ve been working hard to get the passing game working. To get that working, we needed a solid run game. And Max (Hunter) and T-Byrd (Timothy Byrd) ran the ball really well to open up the run game. We also threw screens to open up the deep balls.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers got its passing game going in the second quarter after a one-yard Hunter touchdown. Brister connected with Derryck Dorsey on a 56-yard touchdown strike before finding Trejon Jackson on a 50-yard score with a minute remaining in the quarter. The back-to-back passing touchdowns gave the Tigers a 21-0 halftime lead on the road.
Following a 32-yard field goal from William Reed, Brister found Dorsey again on a 57-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Reed drilled his second field goal from 32 yards in the fourth quarter.
Brister had his finest performance of the season against Minden, completing 13-of-16 passes for 248 yards and three scores. Dorsey was his favorite target of the night, as he caught five passes for 140 yards and two scores.
“We just have to keep building on what we’ve been doing,” Brister said. “We know we’re a pretty good team and we’ve been good traditionally. We know when we focus in and get prepared, as a team, it’s tough to beat us.”
Charles Straughter and Andrew Cagle recorded interceptions for the Tigers defense, while Hinton Roberts secured a sack for Neville in the lopsided victory. Linebacker Todd Stewart played a big role on defense in relief, as well.
At 5-2 (2-0), Neville will get a break in action before facing Bastrop on Nov. 1.