By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
Brookfield High football team was unable to lay a loss on Liberty last night, but at least the Warriors gained a measure of satisfaction by actually leading the Leopards.
Mack O’Brien returned the game’s opening kickoff 87 yards, and 12 ticks into the season loaded Liberty was losing 7-0.
However the Leopards, led by tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint’s 19-carry, 117-yard rushing effort and Anthony Cleveland’s 5-for-8, 129-yard, 3-touchdown passing performance belted Brookfield 56-21 at Addison Field Thursday night.
The Leopards, with 21 letterwinners returning from a 6-4 team from a year ago boast as much raw talent as any team in the OHSAA, particularly for a Division III contingent. Reportedly, both Toussaint and Isaiah Bell are bound for the University of Michigan.
Liberty laid 377 total yards on the Warriors on only 42 snaps, an average of 8.9 yards per play.
“Heart-wise, we played the best we can play. Athletic ability? We had nothing for them,” admitted Brookfield bench boss Randy Clark. “They’ve got a nice team. Size-wise, athletic-wise, all around. I mean, they’re a good team.”
On Liberty’s ensuing drive following O’Brien’s kickoff return, Toussaint’s 4-yard TD tally culminated a 5-play, 49-yard drive necessitating less than 2 full minutes. The first of Matt Britton’s 7 PATs knotted the count at 7 with 9:22 remaining in the 1st frame.
The Leopards then led 35-13 by the break as Cleveland connected with Bell, Antonio Kinard and Toussaint for touchdown tosses of 16, 47 and 48 yards, respectively, and Cleveland capped a 6-play, 51-yard, 1-minute, 36-second march with a 1-yard plunge.
Sandwiched inbetween Liberty’s largesse was Matt Palumbo’s 65-yard scoring sprint on a 3rd-and-1 option keeper in which he outraced the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Bell who reportedly has 4.5 40-yard dash speed.
The teams traded 3rd-quarter TDs — Jamon Wagner jumped an attempted Palumbo pitch and sprinted 39 yards for the Leopards’ score, then Palumbo and O’Brien collaborated on a 31-yard scoring strike on a 4th-and-8 play, as well as the subsequent 2-point conversion.
But Brookfield, entering the 4th frame trailing 42-21, was spent physically, and Liberty backup tailback Nico Minniti mustered 9- and 41-yard TD runs.
O’Brien returned 4 kickoffs for 176 yards (44 yards per), rushed 10 times for 36 yards, caught the TD toss and added an endzone interception, while Palumbo produced a 15-carry, 145-yard performance on the ground.
“They gutted it out, and that’s what they’re going to have to do all year,” Clark confided regarding his senior backfield tandem. “We lose one guy on the opening kickoff (senior Ian O’Neil, possibly to a right ACL injury, though that has not been officially confirmed) and we had to make three (position) changes before the game even started.”
The Warriors were able to generate 241 total yards on 46 plays (5.2 yards/play), and Clark assessed,
“Heart-wise, I think our kids reacted very well; physical-wise, I think our kids did well, but we were just outmanned.”
LIBERTY 7 28 7 14 56
BROOKFIELD 7 6 8 0 21
B — O’Brien, 87 kickoff return (O’Brien kick)
L — Toussaint, 4 run (Britton kick)
L — Bell, 16 pass from Cleveland (Britton kick)
L — Kinard, 47 pass from Cleveland (Britton kick)
B — Palumbo, 65 run (kick failed)
L — Cleveland 1 run (Britton kick)
L — Toussaint, 48 pass from Cleveland (Britton kick)
L — Wagner, 39 interception return (Britton kick)
B — O’Brien, 31 pass from Palumbo (O’Brien pass from Palumbo)\
L — Minniti, 9 run (Britton kick)
L — Minniti, 41 run (Stanovcak kick)
16 First downs 7
248 Rushing yards 210
129 Passing yards 31
8-5-1 Att-comp-int 6-1-1
377 Total yards 241
4-2 Fumbles-lost 4-1
6-65 Penalties-yards lost 10-70
Rushing: LIBERTY — Toussaint 19-117, Minniti 6-61, Pennington 4-53, Kinard 3-9, Martin 1-1; BROOKFIELD — Palumbo 15-145, O’Brien 10-36, Sulick 9-19, Pascale 4-6, Sydlowski 2-4.
Passing: LIBERTY — Cleveland 8-5-1, 129; BROOKFIELD — Palumbo 6-1-1, 31.
Receiving: LIBERTY — Kinard 2-58, Bell 2-23, Toussaint 1-48; BROOKFIELD — O’Brien 1-31.
By Ed Farrell
Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final
SLIPPERY ROCK — Brett Brumbaugh brought Bill Brest back to reality.
Brest seemed, Saturday afternoon, momentarily lost in thought when a post-game question was posed. Perhaps it was because it had been 3 months since he had experienced the disappointment of defeat.
Brumbaugh-led South Fayette’s football team short-circuited a splendid season a step shy of the statewide stage for Brest and Hickory High with a 23-20 win over the Hornets in the PIAA Class AA western regional championship game.
SPORTVIEW: Browns, Steelers will both lose
THE CLEVELAND Browns quarterback position has been a revolving door this season, but at least one of the more successful signal-callers is back. Jason Campbell is recovered from a concussion and will start.
Does it really matter?
Roundup: Opening-weekend tipoff tourneys conclude
Kittanning Tipoff Championship
ä Hickory 60, Kittanning 32 — Coach Jeannette Whitehead’s Lady Hornets had an impressive weekend in winning the opening tourney of the season.
“It’s nice to get out of the game with a win,” said Whitehead. “The kids were anxious to get going.”
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley
It was a typical season-opener: Too many turnovers, some questionable shot selection, and careless personal fouls. But for Brookfield High boys’ bench boss Bill Kovach, “ ... always happy with a win.”
The Warriors were 7-for-10 from the free-throw line during the 4th frame, and held off Pymatuning Valley, 59-48, Tuesday night.
Hornets advance to semis with win over Central
DuBOIS, PA. — Some people could say the “third time is a charm.” For the Hickory High Hornets it was much more than that. In fact, it was glorious.
After losing in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs the last two years, the Hornets finally nailed down a victory with a 37-27 triumph over the Central Dragons from Martinsburg.
Lakeview falls to Clarion Area in PIAA quarterfinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — In the scholastic athletic arena, “mercy rule” — while not politically correct in hyper-sensitive 2013 society — is a relatively accepted term.
Clarion High’s football had mercy-ruled all 13 prior opponents this season. And the Bobcats seemed bent on continuing their commanding conquests during Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal-round meeting with Lakeview.
Hickory focused on winning PIAA opener
The calendar reminds us that Thanksgiving arrives a little later than usual this year. But as holiday traditions go, this one has been pretty productive for Hickory High head football coach Bill Brest.
“My wife always has me put up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving ... and the next day, we’ve won. So I’ll be more than happy to help my wife put up the tree this Friday,” Brest related.
During the past 2 years Hickory has won District 10 titles on Thanksgiving weekend. But this year the Hornets harvested their 3rd consecutive crown last week, jettisoning Girard (21-10). Now Hickory (11-1) has a 1 p.m. date in DuBois Saturday against surprising Central-Martinsburg (11-2) in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Smart move by PIAA to schedule games early this weekend
Congratulations to the PIAA for making a good move that helps teams and fans of high school sports.
Wow, I haven’t been able to say that often enough!
But many of the high school football games this coming weekend will be played in the afternoon which is a real plus for traveling on possibly snow-blown highways at this time of the year.
Hornets 3-peat as D-10 champs with win vs. Girard
EDINBORO — When legendary coach Vince Lombardi said “the only good thing that comes from losing is the desire never to lose again,” he could very well have been referencing the future for Coach Bill Brest and his Hickory Hornets.
Since Hickory lost to Sharon, 14-6, in the 2010 District 10 finals in Brest’s first year at the helm of the team, the D-10 Class AA title game has belonged to Hickory. And Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium, it was no different as the Hornets topped Girard, 21-10 for a third straight crown.
Sailors beat Devils to capture 1st District 10 title
NEW WILMINGTON — Lakeview may have a long way to go to equal Sharpsville’s success in the sport of football, but the Sailors jump-started the process Friday night.
With Blake Reddick roaring into the record book, the Sailors shut out Sharpsville, 27-0, in the District 10 Class A championship game at Greyhounds Stadium.
Hornets seek 3-peat Saturday vs. Girard
Bill Brest ... buffer?
Hickory High’s head football coach has broad shoulders and that’s necessary, because he’s taking on all distractions as his Hornets prepare for Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game.
Hickory (10-1) will attempt to hoist the D-10 trophy for a 3rd consecutive season when the Hornets journey to Girard’s backyard — Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium — to meet the Yellow Jackets at 1 p.m.
Hickory rolls past Northwestern in D-10 semifinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — They say that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You can bet the Northwestern Wildcats are feeling a bit of the latter for the Hickory Hornets!
For a third straight season Hickory eliminated the northerners from the District 10 Class AA playoffs, this time by a 52-14 score in the semifinals Saturday night at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
Greenville falls to Girard in D-10 semifinals
ERIE — District 10 was destined for a Class AA championship game between reigning 2-time titlist Hickory and Greenville.
But no one informed the Girard High football team of the plans.
“ … This is pretty cool … I’m pretty fired up about it,” admitted 4th-year Yellow Jackets’ head coach Jim Funk after Girard jolted Greenville, 16-14.
SPORTVIEW: Season fate could be decided today for Browns, Steelers
IT MAKES NO sense to say that one game determines the rest of the season. That’s why I’ll simply say: Today’s one game determines the rest of the season.
Since when did my predictions make sense anyhow?
The Cleveland Browns’ visit to Cincinnati today will go a long way to deciding if the Browns have a shot at making the playoffs — and even winning the AFC North title — or if they should start planning for the NFL draft.
- More Sports Headlines
- Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final