Just walking normal would be an accomplishment. That is what doctors told Dominick Bragalone's parents when he was a child.
But the kid who was not supposed to walk now runs like a deer. And this past fall, he ran around, over and away from defenders across District 4. Bragalone truly had a season for the ages, shattering Lycoming County records for yards and touchdowns held by two of the area's best players ever. Because of that, Bragalone was an easy choice as the 2013 Sun-Gazette Player of the Year winner.
In only his second season playing high school football, Bragalone compiled numbers that might never be broken and became the Class A State Co-Player of the Year. He ran for a county record and state-high 3,268 yards and state-high 48 touchdowns in just 12 games. The 200-pound junior, who runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, beat Darrell Blackman's former Lycoming County record by 739 yards and Williamsport legend Gary Brown's touchdown record by nine.
Bragalone already is South's all-time leading rusher and scorer with 4,014 yards and 61 touchdowns in just two seasons. He warmed up last season with more than 700 yards and 13 touchdowns. But with two of South's running backs having graduated, Bragalone moved to center stage and became a Blue and White wrecking crew.
A player who can bench more than 300 pounds and outrun just about anyone in District 4, was a touchdown threat every time he touched the ball. Once Bragalone broke into the open, he almost was never caught, making the big play his calling card. Bragalone was so explosively consistent that he topped 300 yards six times and 200 yards 10 times while scoring multiple touchdowns in all 12 games while helping South go 10-2, repeat as NTL Small School champions and reach a second straight District 4 Class A championship.
As the year progressed and defenses loaded the box and did everything possible to slow Bragalone, he simply grew stronger. He did not play as a freshman but relentlessly worked in the offseason and could not be stopped no matter what defenses tried. In his regular-season finale, Bragalone scored a South record seven touchdowns on eight touches.
And when the games meant the most in the playoffs, Bragalone played his best. He ran for 316 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-28 district semifinal win over previously undefeated Wellsboro before torching Southern Columbia for 346 yards and three touchdowns, gaining nearly 250 yards against its vaunted starting unit. Seven touchdowns and 662 yards in two playoff games spoke volumes.
By season's end, Bragalone held just about every significant career and single-season South record. In addition to breaking the county rushing and touchdown record, he compiled a county record 292 points.
The scary thing? Bragalone is still learning and is still trying to get better. Maybe, 2013 was just the start.
Once upon time, Bragalone had trouble walking. Now he can't stop running. And in 2013 nobody could stop him.
2013 Player of the Year: Dominick Bragalone, South Williamsport
Runner-up: Kyle Datres, Loyalsock
Also receiving votes: Mike Pietropola, Wellsboro; Brandon Owlett, Wellsboro
Past Players of the Year
2012: Brandon Smith, Lewisburg
2011: Brandon Smith, Lewisburg, and Skye Stiner, North Penn
2010: Nate Brown, Lewisburg
2009: Mike Kinney, Loyalsock
2008: Cody Haupt, Montoursville
2007: Austin Knighton, Loyalsock
2006: Jake Kreamer, Montoursville
2005: Dan Egly, Hughesville
2004: Luke Ellison, Montoursville
2003: Kyle Van Fleet, Loyalsock
2002: Darrell Blackman, Williamsport
2001: Darrell Blackman, Williamsport