HENDERSON -- Family, friends, teammates, even the media call him "Monster."

It's a nickname his father gave him. Supposedly, he was a wild child.

"That's what they said," he says with a smirk. "I don't believe it."

Years later, the Monster moniker is as accurate as ever. Patrick Brown has been nothing short of a monster on the football field, slashing opposing defenses with his speed and acceleration and punishing special teams units with his uncanny penchant for returning punts.

Brown and his Henderson Lions face Celina at Mesquite's E.H. Hanby Stadium in Friday's 7:30 p.m. Class 3A Division II Region II semifinal. Henderson (8-4) can reach its third consecutive regional final with a win, which would be the Lions' second in as many seasons against storied Celina (10-2).

Henderson's Patrick "Monster" Brown poses during the Lions' July photo day at the ETSN.fm headquarters. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Brown has morphed from a two-way utility player as a sophomore on Henderson's 2010 state championship team, to a three-phase terror as a junior, to the starting quarterback as a senior.

"I think that he's able to do that because he can," Henderson coach Dickey Meeks said of Brown's versatility. "I think that whatever we ask him to do he's willing to do for us. He's one of those guys that you can play just about anywhere on the field, and that's what we've been able to do."

Brown had a breakout season in 2011, accounting for 20 total touchdowns -- 10 receiving, six special teams, three rushing, one defensive -- and a team-leading 122 points to help the Lions finish 11-3 with a 3A Division I state semifinal appearance.

The 2012 season started with "Monster" playing a similar role, but the Brown-led wildcat package the Lions started the season with has become the go-to offensive scheme. Meeks put his best player in the most important position on the field during the Lions' stretch run.

The dividends have been huge.

Brown still lines up at receiver a few times a game and leads Henderson with 20 catches for 340 yards and two scores. But the wildcat-turned-full-time package has allowed "Monster" to gain a team-high 1,105 yards and 14 touchdowns on 140 carries.

"We needed a spark in the Gilmer game and we thought that could do it, and it did help us a whole lot," Meeks said. "Especially since the Kilgore game we've installed more things he can do in the offense. I think it's like anybody changing. It's kind of a tough deal because you're so used to the other, but he's handled it really, really good."

No kidding.

In seven games since moving Monster to full-time QB, he's run for almost 900 yards and all 14 of his rushing touchdowns.

Brown and fellow senior Diamante Wright, Henderson's 5-foot-10, 190-pound tailback, have been a devastating duo. Wright is 20 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark and has 13 rushing touchdowns.

 

"I love to play the game so much. We know what we've gotta do. We know a lot of people depend on us, so we just play for our team."

-- Henderson's Patrick "Monster" Brown

 

"I think we just go out with a clear mind," Brown said of the duo's success. "I love to play the game so much. We know what we've gotta do. We know a lot of people depend on us, so we just play for our team."

Brown's arm strength is something that he hasn't had to show a lot of. Yet.

Henderson's Diamante Wright (25) is tackled by Van's Brandon Farmer (24) during the Lions' 48-21 first-round win in Tyler. Wright and Patrick "Monster" Brown have given Henderson a dynamic rushing duo. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

In limited passing opportunities, he's completed 68.9 percent of his passes for 481 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Henderson has capable receivers in senior Jamie Anthony, junior Tre' Hollins, and a few others as well.

"We haven't really had to throw it yet," Monster said. "Until we have to, then we'll see."

What Henderson and its opponents are all too familiar with is Brown's return ability, which has become what Monster is best known for.

He's returned three punts for touchdowns this season to give him nine return touchdowns since the beginning of the 2011 season. He accounted for 232 punt return yards and one touchdown in Henderson's 41-22 win against Gladewater on Nov. 9, and returned a punt 82 yards for a score in last week's 49-13 second-rout blowout of Quinlan Ford.

Neither Brown nor Meeks can explain the 5-foot-10, 175-pound athlete's dazzling return ability.

"I honestly don't know. I really don't," Brown said laughing. "Middle school-wise the coaches kept telling me I'm gonna be a good punt returner. I never expected to have as many as I've got. Now when I get the ball I don't feel like they can get me."

Meeks said Monster can be unstoppable regardless of where he takes the ball once he fields it.

 

"Why do people keep punting to him?  We're glad if they do, but I just wonder that, too."

-- Henderson coach Dickey Meeks

 

"It's not like we set a wall every time and he runs down it. Sometimes he doesn't go the same side as the wall," Meeks said. "The bigger question to that is why do people keep punting to him? We're glad if they do, but I just wonder that, too."

Brown said sometimes he has to tell himself not to rush his punt returns and make sure he fields the ball cleanly before taking off. He relishes the opportunity to hurt opponents in the return game.

Henderson's Patrick "Monster" Brown runs the ball during the Lions' 14-10 loss to Kilgore in October. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

"I look around first to see if they're close, and if I know I've got a chance to catch it I know I'm gonna get at least a couple of yards," Brown said. "If I get the chance to catch the ball, I expect big plays."

Henderson jumped to a big lead en route to a convincing 42-19 win against Celina in last season's 3A D-I Region II championship. The Bobcats' record is two games better than Henderson's, but Brown and company are confident entering the third-round rematch Friday in Mesquite.

Celina's man-heavy defensive scheme should give Henderson plenty of chances on the perimeter to exploit the Lions' athleticism, which they did in last year's 23-point victory.

"We sure hope so. The big thing that we're thinking is if we can break the line of scrimmage in our run game, then I think we've got some good plays there," Meeks said. "They're a negative-play defense, and they'll give up some big plays, so we just have to take those where we can get them."

Henderson's Monster stands at the center of that big-play game plan.

With an already impressive career that includes a state championship ring and dozens of touchdowns, Patrick "Monster" Brown hopes to add to his team's accomplishments and isn't taking his final high school playoff run for granted.

"This year I think we've got something special," Brown said. "We've got so many people on the team that have lost family members and all that stuff. We think we've got to play for them."

If Monster continues to live up to his nickname, the Lions' 2012 won't end anytime soon.

 

Henderson's Patrick "Monster" Brown in the Lions' weight room. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)