6-foot-7 transfer lineman Bam Bam Brima has made impact for Sock

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette
Bam Bam Brima, Dom Fischetti and Loyalsock meet Scranton Prep in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs Friday at 7 at Williamsport High School.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Bam Bam Brima, Dom Fischetti and Loyalsock meet Scranton Prep in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs Friday at 7 at Williamsport High School.

As the year progressed and Bam Bam Brima continued making big plays, public address announcers, high school football fans and Loyalsock opponents shared the same question.

Who is this guy?

It is not just because Brima has a great name — full name Bambanga — or because he started wrecking opponent’s backfields. Specifically, it is because Brima looks like an athlete cut from central casting. The junior defensive end stands 6-foot-7, weighs 235 pounds, shows explosive speed and hits mighty hard. He has become a weapon and Brima arriving the same night the season started is a big reason the Lancers are district champions for the first time since 2009. They will now play in Friday’s Class AAA state tournament at Williamsport against District 2 champion Scranton Prep.

“He’s a fantastic addition,” two-way lineman Carmen Barone said. “He has height and he’s a fantastic player.”

“He’s a great guy and he’s been really good at defensive end,” cornerback Sam Newton said. “I’m so glad we were able to get him on the team.”

To answer the original question, Brima is a well-educated son of a minister whose Christian work brought him from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Loyalsock last August. He also is an avid reader and aspiring author.

Now Brima is writing quite a debut story.

The man who seemingly arrived out of thin air has become a driving factor in Loyalsock’s championship push. An athlete who never knew any Loyalsock players or coaches before they started the season has become a valued friend as well as a defensive standout who has helped solidify a stingy unit. The book is still a work in progress with many chapters to be written in the coming years, but the first chapter sure is a page turner.

“In all honesty I was nervous. Massachusetts isn’t a state known for football like Pennsylvania and I didn’t really think about an impact that I would have,” Brima said. “Football has just been something that I’ve enjoyed being a part of.”

“I usually try to get to know the new players or students and what makes them tick. With Bam that was a fast process,” Loyalsock coach Justin Van Fleet said. “I’m still getting to know him and he’s getting to know me and the community, but it’s been a nice honeymoon period and that’s something that can become long standing. He’s a special kid from a special family.”

Brima has been a big hit with the Loyalsock family and made his season debut in Week 3 against Mifflinburg. Not only was Brima playing at a new school in a new state, but he also was learning new positions. Brima was a defensive lineman and an offensive guard at St. Peter Marian last year. Loyalsock inserted him at defensive end and he also plays some tight end.

That Brima has adjusted so fast and come so far is a testament to his ability, drive and willingness to learn. He showed flashes in his first five games and then the light really started going off. Over his last five games, Brima has become a force. He has been tough to block and has wreaked havoc with opposing quarterbacks, applying pressure and repeatedly blocking passing lanes with his Spider-Man like arms.

Brima demands attention and has averaged 9.4 tackles over the last five weeks while adding 10 tackles for loss and two sacks. He looked like Super Man at times against Montoursville in Week 10 and made 15 tackles with 2 for loss against Lewisburg in a district semifinal win. Loyalsock had been knocking on the championship door the past four years and Brima helped it kick the thing down Friday at Danville, making six more tackles in a 35-6 win in which the Lancers allowed just 181 yards.

“He progressed amazingly throughout the season,” Barone said. “He had an incredible amount of tackles in multiple games and he’s just a very good player.”

“The hardest part about adjusting to Loyalsock football was each game being a constant battle and fighting for the guy next to me,” Brima said.

That is a battle Brima is winning in convincing fashion. Whether playing or just warming up, Brima looks like a physical specimen. He has all the athletic tools one can desire.

So many other athletes, though, share similar qualities and never utilize their gifts. Brima is not that player. He is like a sponge, constantly absorbing information. Danville contained Brima throughout the first half last Friday, but Brima did not panic.

Like a scientist, Brima went back to the lab, consulted with his coaches and made some adjustments. He processed the data and put together a strong performance as Loyalsock dropped the hammer on the Ironmen, blanked it in the second half and captured the championship. As much as any game, the way Brima responded there spoke to who he is and who he might yet become.

Colleges are noticing and Brima is becoming a hot prospect. The future is now, though, and Brima is attacking it the way he does the opposing offense.

“He’s really developed as he’s learning and learning and his skill level is going up exponentially,” Newton said. “He has the size, the height, the weight. Now he’s getting the mental part of it and that’s all you need for success.”

Not that Brima is satisfied. The defensive end’s biggest critic is the man in the mirror. He demands a lot from himself and works hard to achieve whatever challenge is placed in his way. Whether that is an offensive lineman, a book or a class, Brima is going all-out.

Brima is making his teammates better and they are making him better. It is a powerful reciprocal relationship and the championship trophy Loyalsock hoisted last Friday validated that. The story has a long way to go, but Brima has reeled others in. He is providing quite a read.

“He’s come a stalwart. He’s brought a strong edge to our team,” Van Fleet said. “He is a huge value to the community. In addition to being a solid student and player, he is showcasing himself as a role model.”

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