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Honeymoon will wait for just-married R&B running back Brennan

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Joe Brennan won’t let anything stand in the way of his pursuit of the Watertown Red and Black’s career rushing record.

Not even his honeymoon.

Brennan, who married his longtime girlfriend Kristi last Friday on Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, will be in the backfield Saturday when the nation’s oldest semipro football team begins its 117th season with a 7 p.m. game against the Syracuse Shock at Liverpool High School.

The newlyweds said they will wait until after the Empire Football League season concludes in October to get away and celebrate the marriage.

“It’s football season,” Brennan said.

“I’ve missed weddings. I’ve missed anniversaries. I’ve missed birthdays. I’ve missed so many things,” he added.

Brennan’s sacrifices over the last six seasons — four as the starting running back — have positioned him just more than 1,000 yards away from breaking Al Countryman’s Red and Black record for career rushing yards.

With about 3,960 career rushing yards entering Saturday, Brennan is about 200 yards shy of passing Mike Britton for second place on the all-time list.

“I want to go down in history as one of the best Red and Black players, one of the best running backs in their history,” said Brennan, a 2006 graduate of Sandy Creek who grew up in the area.

“And for me growing up, watching Al Countryman play, he was like a God out there. So for me to come in and possibly break his record someday, it was a goal of mine because he’s someone I looked up to.”

Brennan said that winning the team’s first EFL title since 2009 takes precedent over any individual achievements he may have in mind. But at the same time, the record is something he would cherish.

“It would put me in the record books and being the oldest semiprofessional football team in America, that’s a big deal to me,” Brennan said. “Because there’s a lot of history, there are a lot of great players that have come through this organization, and for me to one day finish my career being on top would mean the world to me.”

Red and Black coach George Ashcraft noted that Brennan has missed just two practices since he graduated from college in 2010.

He was absent from this Monday’s practice because he was still in Plattsburgh with his in-laws after the wedding, and he missed one last summer to be with his wife when she had surgery.

“He’s ready to roar,” Ashcraft said. “Every time he carries the ball he’s getting closer to setting that rushing record, and I want him to do it. I want him to be able to be the guy to do it because he’s legit, he doesn’t talk crap, he stays away from all that BS and he never misses practice. That’s a true ball player.”

Brennan stayed focused during an offseason filled with controversy that saw several coaches and players leave the team, some of which have come back, and the organization’s financial practices questioned publicly by former starting quarterback/accountant Brian Williams.

“I never considered leaving the Watertown Red and Black organization,” Brennan said. “From the beginning I said ‘I’m a football player and all I want to do is play football.’ And for me, the best opportunity to do that was with the Watertown Red and Black.”

“Throughout the whole thing, I’ve had lots of friends who left and have lots of guys that are new friends that have come in. So it was kind of a distraction for most, but to me, I just left it to football and it made me train harder to make sure that I was prepared for this team so we can have as much success as we’ve had in our past,” he added.

And that success, Brennan believes, will come despite the loss of several veterans at key positions.

“I think we’re going to surprise some people,” Brennan said.

“I know that a lot of people have probably written us off and thought, well with all the problems that there have been and so on and so forth,” he added. “I strongly feel that this team has a lot of potential to surprise some people.”

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