Were Todd Brady's football career a musical composition, it would probably be Brahms' "Concerto No. 2 in B Flat," which just happens to be his favorite. A bold piece, heavy in tone, it brings out a dramatic feeling of strength.
For teammate Andres Kennedy, who returns from a week on the sidelines for Loyola High School's most important game of the season so far, it would be Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." After a mellow start, it picks up for a strong finish.
That would suit Kennedy just fine. In fact, it rather matches the entire team that began 1987 slowly and is just now living up to its preseason rankings.
So it goes for the Cubs, who again have a defense that's music to the ears of Coach Steve Grady. That falls right in with tradition at the Los Angeles school, which has a 4-0 record and is ranked sixth in the Southern Section heading into tonight's 7:30 nonleague showdown against No. 7 Antelope Valley, also 4-0, at Lancaster.
But on a unit that has plenty of top performers--linebacker Josh Price, backs Jimmy Klein and Kennedy, and linemen Paul Sellers, Matt Butkus, Dan Glascott, Mike Gilhooly and Brady head the group--Kennedy and Brady are true virtuosos. They are standouts both with the 88 keys and the 5-2 alignment.
Brady, a 6-foot 4-inch, 215-pound junior, has been playing piano for 11 years, with tastes that run from the classics of Beethoven, Chopin and Mendelssohn to the modern-day movements of Alicia de Larrocha.
How many of his classmates know of de Larrocha, let alone go to the Music Center and the Hollywood Bowl for performances, as Brady does?
"Better yet," he said. "How many high school football players have heard of her?"
Not many, to be sure. But Brady is not your average high school football player.
His father, Don, played football at Stanford in the 1950s, and his mother, Mary, was a classical pianist herself. They are the guiding forces behind Todd's enjoyment of sports and music.
His problem is talent--lots of it in a variety of areas and not enough time to fully explore it. For the 16-year-old Brady, a defensive tackle in just his third year of tackle football, it's 2-2 1/2 hours of piano a day after football practice, at home and with a teacher, with seven or eight recitals a year, even solos, on classical music.
"He has no second speed," Grady said. "He's always on full-out go. . . . He's under a lot of pressure to accomplish a lot of goals, and football obviously isn't his only priority. He wants the piano, he wants good grades and he wants football."
So far, Brady, with a 3.6 grade-point average and definite potential in football, has been able to keep all desires relatively satisfied. The coaches have been able to combine sports and music, too, calling him Liberace when they figure that he's not working hard enough on the field. That usually produces increased effort.
"There's always the pressure to get better," Brady said this week. "Only now am I able to enjoy being able to play classical piano and football at the same time. . . . I would never quit the piano for football and I would never quit football for the piano. Both mean too much to me.
"I don't feel I'm playing as well as I could just because of the thousand different things, piano and school and football. It's really hard on to go on the field and give 100% on the field every day. I know I've got a lot to learn, but with the great coaches we have, I know I can be good."
And, much as he has varying interests in life, his appreciation of music is also wide ranging. In fact, the normal pregame ritual calls for a heavy-metal dose of Led Zeppelin or Van Halen, for the classics can only go so far in getting you fired up for a game in the trenches.
"I love the old music, the Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Mendelssohn," he said. "I enjoy listening to rock music but then being able to switch my mind over to play classical.
"People ask me how I could listen to music that's so relaxing and then go listen to something where you bang your brains out. I guess that's the thing that makes me unique. I know the average Joe Blow couldn't do it.
"I look at the others and say, 'They don't have to go to football practice, too.' They can devote eight hours a day to just the piano. Most of them probably never even read the sports section. I can look at myself and say, 'I'm getting the best of both worlds.' "
Kennedy, a senior wide receiver/cornerback who sat out last Saturday's win over El Camino Real of Woodland Hills with a sprained ankle, knows the feeling. Ten years of piano playing has also been an asset to his football, mainly because it strengthens his fingers, the better to catch the ball. Discipline is another carry-over.
"I know it's worth it because they complement each other," said Kennedy, who was born in New York and moved to Cheviot Hills when he was 8. "I wouldn't give either one up. It's hard to separate them."