Standout running back Brian Dwyer to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
April 17, 2018
Editor's note: This is the seventh installment of a 17-part series chronicling the 2018 Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame inductees. Check back to The Union sports pages each day for a new profile on a Nevada Union legend.
When there's a conversation about the best Nevada Union running backs of all time, the name Brian Dwyer often comes up.
"Brian was a very versatile athlete," said Dave Humphers, who coached Dwyer at Nevada Union. "He was quick and explosive. A very well-conditioned athlete who could turn around and do great things for us at safety on defense. He was built like a linebacker … a very unselfish player who would do anything to help his team win.
"He's got to be in that discussion about the best running backs of all time at NU."
Dwyer was a three-sport athlete during his high school career, but is best known for his gridiron exploits where he put up incredible numbers which earned the 1997 graduate a spot in the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame. He will be inducted at an April 28 ceremony.
Dwyer said he is humbled and honored to be included with the Class of 2018, but added it was a Hall-of-Fame career that almost never happened.
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Following an auto accident in 1995 that took the lives of Dwyer's close friends and teammates Ryan Mello and Leonard Hale, Dwyer was inconsolable and had shut himself off from the outside world.
"After the accident I had no plans of playing anything, and frankly, I didn't even want to be on Earth," Dwyer recalled. "It was the action taken by Ryan's dad, Larry (Mello), and his brother, Tim (Mello), that frankly saved my life. They showed up at my doorstep, pulled me out of bed and brought me to practice. If it wasn't for that, I can honestly say I wouldn't be here.
"From then on, it was football. I had a purpose. It was to go out and prove I should be here and I'm going to do everything I can to honor the memory of my two friends and it just became what drove me."
Dwyer went on to have a strong junior year followed by a huge senior season in 1996. As a senior, he rushed for 1,385 yards, averaged 8.2 yards per carry and scored 20 touchdowns on offense. On defense, he was a standout safety and notched three interceptions. He led the Miners to a 9-1 record that year, was named the Offensive MVP of the Capital Athletic League, earned a spot on the Optimist All-Star Team and was the co-winner of the Jim Brown Award, which goes to Nevada Union's football MVP.
When pressed about his favorite on the field moment Dwyer cites a game against a tough Elk Grove team in which he scored the go-ahead touchdown on offense before knocking down a pass on defense to seal the game.
While there were plenty of wins and long touchdown runs during Dwyer's playing days, his fondest memories are of the times he spent with friends and teammates.
"Football is a sport unlike any other," he said. "You're truly in the trenches with your teammates, and you become best friends with the players around you, and that's what I remember the most."
Dwyer also expressed gratitude to the many coaches that helped him through such a trying time in his life, citing long talks that focused more on life than sports with Humphers and baseball coach Ted White.
"We would just talk," he said. "As an adult now, I know they did it because they cared and they knew it was probably something I needed to do because I didn't talk to a lot of people then."
Dwyer wasn't only a star on the football team, he also excelled in baseball and track and earned letters in both sports. But, it was football coupled with strong academics that landed Dwyer a scholarship to Michigan Technical University.
Dwyer played running back at Michigan Tech and earned a Bachelor's degree in business administration. He now works as the director of commercial accounts at Superior Vision in Woodland.
Dwyer is happily married to Janelle, his wife of 10 years. He also has a son, Cohen, 8.
"(Cohen's) definitely the center of my world," Dwyer said. "He's an amazing little athlete and I enjoy coaching him in all of his sports."
Now 20-plus years removed from his high school playing days, Dwyer looks back on his time at Nevada Union with both memories that are fond and ones not so fond. He cherishes the many good times he had with his teammates and friends, and he also laments the tragedy that scarred that time in his life.
Dwyer sees it as a pivotal moment in his life where with the help of those around him, he was able to forge ahead in the face of tragedy.
"Always be moving forward," Dwyer said, citing one of the many lessons he learned from his athletic career. "You could have the best day of your life followed by the worst day of your life. Just know that you got to keep moving forward.
"Always take that next step forward. That still rings true today."
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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