Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) junior Max Browne prides himself on being a cerebral quarterback. As the conductor of the Spartans’ no-huddle aerial attack, the junior’s brain must act like a microprocessor, calling plays at the line, evaluating what scheme the defense is in and whether to audible — all at a feverish pace.
The ESPNHS Underclass All-American was masterful under center this past fall, completing better than 70 percent of his passes and tossing 43 TDs to lead the Spartans to the Class 4A crown. Browne’s success and poise in that demanding role has led some scouts to compare him to Peyton Manning.
But Browne would be fine just reaching the level of his predecessor, Jake Heaps, an Elite 11 alum now at Kansas who captured multiple state crowns at Skyline.
“We’re similar in our ability to command the offense,” says Browne. “He started the championship streak at Skyline, and I’m kind of continuing it.”
Browne took another step toward matching Heaps, wowing scouts with his downfield accuracy and ability to complete a variety of throws at last spring’s Elite 11 Regional at Stanford. He is hopeful an invite to the finals will kick off his final season on the gridiron.
ESPNHS: What was the environment like at last year’s Elite 11 Regional at Stanford?
Browne: At that event, you really see that there are a lot of good quarterbacks on the West Coast. Those guys had good accuracy and arm strength, so you have to bring your “A” game. And the coaches were top notch. There’s a lot of good competition and everyone wants to be on the Elite 11 Finals show.
ESPNHS: What did you learn at Regionals that helped you on the field last season?
Browne: Just when I roll out to keep my shoulders level and to make sure I point my toes where the receiver is going to be. I got away with that stuff at times as a sophomore, but I won’t be able to at the next level.
ESPNHS: What would it mean to you to be selected to the Elite 11 Finals?
Browne: It would be a huge honor to know I’m one of the best QBs in the nation. Ever since I was in middle school, I used to watch Elite 11 stuff, and there’s so many NFL guys that have been there.
ESPNHS: Washington all-state QB Jeff Lindquist competed in the finals last year. Did he offer you any advice on how to succeed there?
Browne: He said to make sure you know your playbook. You should know it in and out. He also just told me to play my game. Make sure I do it my way.
ESPNHS: What changes did you see in your game in 2011?
Browne: I had better command of the offense and I didn’t let my team get rattled. I was a better leader and my team rallied around me.
ESPNHS: Skyline has a tradition of winning and a growing number of haters. Do opposing players talk trash to you?
Browne: Oh, yeah. Kids know all about Skyline. We don’t lose to a whole lot of teams, but if we do they let us know. This one kid posted on Facebook said, “Max, I’m coming for you.” He got a couple licks on me in the game, but I still completed the throws.
ESPNHS: It seems like every season either Skyline or Bellevue is ranked in the POWERADE FAB 50. Which team really runs Washington?
Browne: Even though they beat us this year, Skyline runs football in Washington. They play in Class 3A and that’s a lower division. We have a harder road to state each year. After we both won state titles this year, people joked we should’ve had a rematch. The way we played at the end of the year, we could’ve beaten anyone.
MAX BROWNE School: Skyline (Samammish, Wash.)
2011 Team Record: 11-3 (Won Class 4A state title)