Jack Brady wanted to be on the East sidelines for Saturday’s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl. A few months ago, he was all set to be an assistant coach on Dave Hainer’s East staff. Brady coached the Mt. View High School football team to its first winning season and first playoff appearance, and he couldn’t wait to help coach the best high school football players in Maine.

Instead, Brady was at home in Belfast, recovering from an infection that nearly killed him two months ago.

“They’re not really sure what caused it,” Brady said. “My whole body went septic. For a couple of days, they weren’t sure if I was going to make it.”

It was May 20, and Brady felt like he was coming down with the flu. He felt achy and his temperature rose. It felt like a very nasty flu. Two and a half years ago, Brady received an artificial hip and his doctors think the infection may have started there.

Brady spent time first in Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, before moving to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. His artificial hip was removed. In its place, doctors installed an antibiotic spacer to, as Brady put it, “hold everything in place.”

With the infection under control, Brady had to wait six weeks for a new hip. That meant six weeks of bed rest. Six weeks of watching bad television. Six weeks of thinking about his football team.

Brady was an assistant coach at Belfast Area High School for 14 years, waiting for the chance to build his own team. In four years, Brady transformed a fledgling, struggling program into a team that can compete in the Little Ten Conference. The Mustangs had one year of varsity football experience when Brady became their head coach. They went winless his first season, 2008, then won two games in 2009.

There was just one win in 2010, but Brady saw progress. With 14 seniors who had been with Brady since his first season at Mt. View, Brady knew 2011 would be the breakthrough season. The Mustangs won six games. They hosted a playoff game. They celebrated the game.

“Last year, we talked about turning the corner. I feel like we did that,” Brady said. “Now it’s about maintaining.”

That’s what Brady thought about when he was bedridden for six weeks. Aside from his family, football kept him going.

Brady did what he’s told his players to do. He fought, and he endured.

“I had no choice but to endure,” Brady said. “It was the longest six weeks of my life. You can’t imagine lying in bed, unable to do anything.”

Brady lost almost 50 pounds. Finally, on July 2, he was healthy enough to get another artificial hip. Within a few days, he was moving with the help of a walker. He left Eastern Maine Medical Center and went to Tall Pines, a rehabilitation center in Belfast. Last Tuesday, Brady went home.

“I’m on crutches now. I’m really pleased with that. I’m coming along,” Brady said. “This really knocked the stuffing out of me.”

Brady spoke with Mt. View athletic director Chuck Karter about getting a golf cart to get to and from the Mustangs’ practice field, just up the road from the high school. The first day of practice is Aug. 13. Lying in bed for six weeks, Brady thought about that day over and over. It was a touchstone, and as he gets on with his rehab, Brady thinks about it even more.

“The one thing I’ve been looking at is that first day. I can’t tell you how much that’s meant to me,” Brady said. “We’ve got some great kids. I think we’re going to have great offensive and defensive lines. I think we have some speed.

“I love football. Working with those kids, it’s one of the highlights of my year.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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