By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
Randy Clark was a 14- or 15-year-old high school freshman in 1978, playing for legendary John Delserone. Ultimately, he played on Delserone’s final Brookfield team (’81).
Now Clark’s a grown man with a family and business, is coaching his own son and his son’s peers who are on the precipice of repeating history a generation removed.
Clark’s club has the opportunity to duplicate Delserone’s crowning achievement. Just as his own life has evolved, Clark has brought Brookfield High’s football program full-circle since that state championship ’78 season.
The Warriors (12-0) will meet defending OHSAA Division IV champion Creston-Norwayne (12-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Munroe Falls High, Stow, for the Region 13 championship and a Buckeye State berth in the Final Four.
Norwayne knocked Brookfield from the postseason, as the Warriors were whipped (42-7) in Lodi in last year’s opening round. However, Clark cautioned,
“It’s not revenge ... redemption, maybe. (The Warriors) are excited about playing this game and they’re looking forward to it.”
As special as the ’78 season was — and is — this year’s edition already has exceeded it in one regard, having established a single-season standard for wins, 1 more than the state champions. Until an out-of-town media type pointed out, “You realize you’re in the state semis?” that Clark claimed.
“I hadn’t heard that — regional championship — but it’s right here. You win and you’re right there. I don’t think Brookfield people realize how close we are.”
That’s where Clark clearly drew a distinction.
“In seventy-eight, they played only two (playoff) games. But I don’t think Brookfield people realize it — a regional championship is pretty damn big. ... The winningest season ever in Brookfield history, that’s pretty big!”
Quarterback/linebacker Adam Wallace was Norwayne’s workhorse last year, but his graduation has not bothered the Bobcats, who have bullied opponents for 52.5 points per game.
Last week the ’Cats mauled Liberty (54-7). Norwayne notched a 41-0 margin at intermission on Jon Zimmerly’s 16-carry, 91-yard, 2-TD performance. According to The (Warren) Tribune-Chronicle, he sat out the 2nd half. Quarterback Joe Dreher drilled Liberty for a 21-for-28, 300-yard, 4-TD passing performance (3- and 63-yarders to Mitch Knierheim), according to The Trib. Also, Kaleb Harris had a TD catch and Pick-6.
“Once we get rolling we tend to pile on pretty good. That’s been our ‘M.O.,’” Norwayne head coach Joe Harbour told The Trib.
But Brookfield has boasted its own bullying brand of ball. Led by quarterback Jeremy Quinlan (79 completions in 136 attempts, 58 percent, 1,071 yards, 14 touchdowns, 7 interceptions), running back Ryan Mosora (211 carries, 2,032 yards rushing, 9.6 yards/carry, 29 TDs) and aerial go-to guys Collin Harkulich (21 catches, 331 yards,15.7 /catch, 6 TDs), Joey Clark (21-241, 11.4, 3), Mosora (12-236, 19.6, 3) and Jimmy Quinlan (16-236, 14.7, 2) the Warriors have overwhelmed opponents 557-147, or 46.4 to 12.25 on a nightly norm.
“They’ve got a lot of skill. The little bit I know of them, I think they’re pretty similar to us,” Harbour told The Trib. “It’s going to be a battle of similar teams. It makes it fun for the audience, but not for us.”
Clark confided, “Dreher’s a thrower, and they’ve got very good athletes. A lot of teams have one, but (Dreher) has three receivers, and you throw it up there, they go get the ball. But Dreher’s not the double-threat (Wallace) was.
“They’re similar to us,” Clark continued, “but they use a ‘pistol’ look, with three wides (receivers), sometimes two-by-two. Defensively, they’re just like us, they use a 4-2-5, with a lot of man coverage with all those athletes back there (secondary). But their two linebackers are totally different.
“They have good speed, but,” Clark continued, “we’re a lot faster, too,
“Last year, not knowing about their team speed, I think we were a little shocked,” he admitted.
Ideally, last year’s learning experience can benefit Brookfield Friday night.
“I definitely believe so,” Clark commented. “Last year we were like deer in headlights. ... the kids became complacent with where they were at (qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since the mid-90’s), with all the hoopla that was going on in the community.
“This year we’ve already had two games in the playoffs, and I think the kids are up to win this game,” Clark continued, relating,
“It’s not pressure on my kids. They’re so calm and collected. They’ll goof off, but when it’s time for business, they hit the light switch. They’re excited about playing this game and, as coaches, we’re looking forward to it.
“I don’t think they look at it that way (pressure),” Clark continued. “They know they’re playing Norwayne on Friday night, but they want to know, ‘How nice is the stadium?’ These kids want another game, they just want to keeping winning. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Following last week’s lambasting of Liberty, Harbour told The Trib, “We knew last year when we played (Brookfield) they were a really good, young team. We thought we might see the again (in 2012), and I guess that came to fruition.”
Earlier this week Clark & Co. came off the practice field (Warren Harding and Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium have been utilizied the last 3 weeks), and regarding the Warriors he related, “It was 29 degrees, but there was no (complaining).
“Believe me, nobody wants it to end — coaches, players. And I think we have a legitimate shot,” Clark continued. “But it all comes down to the team that doesn’t put the ball on the carpet or grabs the other guy’s jersey is the one that’s going to win.
“If you want to go to the top, you’ve gotta beat the best, and this is another opportunity,” Clark concluded.