Antonio Brown is making sure to take care of all the weeds.
In fact, the 6-foot, 240-pound senior lineman for the Riverview High football team is taking the team's gardening to heart.
"We have more grass on the team now," said Brown, who had 24 tackles in 2011's 2-8 season. "It already feels as this season will be a lot better. The coaching staff is strict, so there's no superstar kids out there thinking they can do whatever they want. … Now, the weeds in the yard don't outweigh the grass. It's not affecting us at all now."
The Sharks new coaching staff, headed up by former East Bay player and assistant Mike Thornton, takes over a program that hasn't had much success in recent seasons. Riverview was 5-24 the past three years and only scored 116 points in 2011. Thornton and company are turning to Brown's vast football experience and knowledge to help turn the program around.
"Football is down at this school," Thornton said. "It's been a challenge to win football games, but Antonio is one of the most important players on the team. He's playing for his second coach in two years and he could've resisted the change -- he's embraced it, and I think that the last three to four years have humbled him and the team and they're ready to win again."
Thornton said Brown has impressed coaches and players alike in group drills and even become more vocal as training camp opened earlier this month. Thornton recognized it in Brown's personality and knew, from the start, the leadership would shine.
"His demeanor is the right mix of leading by example and being vocal," Thornton said. "With a transition like we're going through, Antonio is the perfect player to have."
Brown will now rely heavily on his years of playing football to help Riverview get out of the basement of Class 7A-District 8. It may not be easy, but Brown is weeding out the negative to right the Sharks ship.
"I know the new freshmen look up to me and I somewhat feel like a coach out there," Brown said. "He's still the big boss telling the seniors what to do, but they wanted a team brotherhood and a football atmosphere. Now, we have that."