It hasn't been an easy season for Brad Couts.

It hasn't been an easy season for Brad Couts.

The Johnstown-Monroe High School senior running back suffered an ankle injury on a hit Aug. 28 in the opener against Granville that limited his power and speed.

Despite an occasional limp, Couts has been productive. Entering the season finale last Friday against Northridge, he had 1,221 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

"It definitely has made it a challenge (playing through the ankle injury), but I'm not one to make excuses. That just comes with the territory of being a football player," said Couts, who ran for 1,381 yards on 224 carries with 11 touchdowns as a junior. "You have to be mentally, as well as physically prepared. You have to be able to put out for the team. You know you are going to take a beating, but you take that anytime and anywhere on the field."

Through nine games, Couts had 237 carries, nearly 27 attempts per game. A week after the 27-7 loss to Granville, he rushed for 129 yards on 37 carries in a 50-20 loss to Heath on Sept. 4

"I'll tell you, that Couts kid is tough," Heath coach Mark Collier said. "He was hurting and the way he carried the ball ... that's one tough kid."

And Couts has been carrying the load since.

"Physically, he's a good combination of speed, power and strength," Johnstown coach Mike Carter said. "His ankle is still sore and that's tough, especially in the position he plays. But when you play tailback, sometimes you have to play through injury and pain. You have to be durable and you definitely have to be tough."

But Couts is also diverse, excelling in the classroom as well as on the lacrosse field. He has a 4.233 GPA and has been named a state finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman and is also a McDonald's Scholar Athlete.

"Brad is being recruited by several Ivy League and East Coast schools because he can play both lacrosse and football. They like that over there and that's why they've shown so much interest," Carter said. "He has a lot of opportunities. It has to be comforting as a parent to know that your child has so many promising things ahead."

Like most seniors, Couts will be making several decisions in the coming months concerning his educational and athletic futures. As of now, he is not sure which way he is leaning.

"I've been looking at some Ivy League schools and a few Division II schools like Ashland," said Couts, who is a goalkeeper in lacrosse. "I'm looking to play lacrosse as well as football. Some schools will let you play both, others won't.

"At this point, I'm not 100 percent sure which sport I'll play, but I'm happy just to be able to have the opportunity to choose."

As for a favorite, that usually falls to the sport that's in season.

"They call lacrosse the fastest game on two feet, but it can also be a pretty physical game. You also have to be able to take a hit in football and you have to have good hand-eye coordination in both and you have a lot of conditioning in both," Couts said. "In college, if you are going to play two sports, football and lacrosse are the most popular option for that."

But even if Couts settles on football, he doesn't know what side of the ball he might play. Through nine games, he had 32 tackles, 10 for a loss, and a forced fumble as a linebacker for the Johnnies.

"I like playing linebacker as well and it's pretty close as to which one I like best. I like offense because it's always fun to put points on the board, but there are fewer restraints when you play defense. You can just let it go and have more fun," Couts said. "Some schools like my size (6-foot, 205 pounds) as a tailback and other like me on defense. It really doesn't matter as long as I get on the field."

But last Friday was the final high school football game for Couts. After three consecutive postseason appearances, a 4-5 record had the Johnnies out of the playoff picture.

"This year in general, we have made too many mistakes against good teams. We have overcome a lot of adversity," said Couts, whose team was 3-3 in the MBC before last Friday. "We wish we could go back and change some things, but really, I have no regrets. This season has been a learning tool. It's something we can learn from and get better. I wouldn't trade the opportunity to play my senior year at Johnstown. It's been great."


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Johnstown-Monroe and Northridge football teams:

JOHNSTOWN

*Oct. 23 -- Defeated East Knox 17-0. Brad Couts had 129 yards rushing on 23 carries and Reed Franklin had 83 yards on three carries with a 75-yard touchdown run. Ross Franklin added a 37-yard interception return for a score and Patrick Benton added a 22-yard field goal.

*Last Friday -- Played Northridge

Of note: The Johnnies were 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the MBC before last Friday.

NORTHRIDGE

*Oct. 23 -- Lost to Loudonville 64-7. Tony Rios caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Hull for the Vikings' only score.

*Last Friday -- Played Johnstown

Of note: The Vikings were 1-8 overall and 0-5 in the MBC before last Friday.

*MBC game