By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
It wasn’t the best season in Brookfield High football annals. But 2013’s surprising 8-3 ledger was the culmination of arguably the best 4-year span in program history.
Unfortunately, that did not take the edge off Friday night’s 47-14 OHSAA Division VI Region 19 quarterfinal-round loss to Louisville-St. Thomas Aquinas.
Brookfield bounced back from a 13-0 first-quarter deficit to draw within 20-14 by the break. However Anthony Moeglin mustered a trio of 2nd-half touchdown tosses to nudge the Knights to the next round against 2-time D-IV state finalist Kirtland.
“That’s what they’re so good at,” began Brookfield bench boss Randy Clark. “They do both (run and pass). They kept two tights, they go unbalanced, they spread you out ... then they hit you with the counter ... then they hit you with play-action. And the quarterback (Moeglin) is very good. He can throw the ball and they go get it.”
Moeglin manufactured an 11-for-18, 240-yard, 4-TD passing performance that included 2nd-half scoring strikes of 67 yards to Alex Benedetti and 14 and 61 yards to Sam Pusateri. Moeglin and Pusateri also collaborated on a 2nd-quarter, 11-yard TD.
Complementing Moeglin was Ja’Lon Humphries’ 16-carry, 130-yard rushing effort, as STA (9-2) totalled 409 yards. And when its initial pair of drives stalled, Harris Knowles knocked down 31- and 25-yard, 1st-period field goals.
“Once we got in the locker room (at halftime) and were able to regroup, just talk through some things, we came out and made plays like we have been all year,” explained 4th-year STA head coach and alum Tim Budd. “We have a couple good running backs, our quarterback play from Anthony Moeglin has been outstanding all year, and we have a good complement of receivers.
“We were able to take what the defense gave us and the kids were patient; then in the second half were able to make plays to win the game,” Budd added.
Frankie DiMarzio’s recovery and subsequent 35-yard return of Augustus Necastro’s ill-fated option pitch enabled the Knights to take a 13-0 lead with 51 ticks to play in the opening period.
But Brookfield bounced back.
On 4th-and-6 from STA’s 27, Necastro threw laterally to Joey Clark, then the latter stopped and tossed downfield to a waiting Marc Kraml, completing the flea-flicker for the score. Kasey Tingler’s conversion kick drew the Warriors within 13-7.
Exactly 3 minutes later the Moeglin-to-Pusateri pass play put STA up 20-7 with 6:40 remaining to intermission. However Brookfield embarked on an 8-play, 62-yard, 3-minute, 50-second series, culminating in Necastro’s option pitch to Joey Clark and the latter’s 11-yard run.
Brookfield actually had the ball in the 1st-half’s waning seconds, but a 6-play drive was aborted at midfield by a holding penalty.
The Knights’ knockout started by coercing a 3-and-out from Brookfield to commence the 2nd half. Then Moeglin made it look easy by spreading the Warriors’ defense, utilizing a handful of receivers including Benedetti who was playing with his left hand encased in a cast.
Joey Clark concluded his scholastic career with a 19-carry, 133-yard rushing performance. However he gained only 34 yards after intermission and his night ended early, with 7:13 remaining.
“I told (the Knights) to put number one on the ground,” Budd related. “I mean, if we were gonna move on we had to ‘gut’ up and tackle that kid. That was the (halftime) message. Number one (Clark) was running real well, taking care of business in the first half, so we had to tighten up and get that kid on the ground.
“I was very, very proud of our defense in the second half. The coaching staff made good adjustments and our players were determined,” Budd continued. “They knew what they had to do: They had to tackle better, stop the inside zone play, and if we did that we had a good chance to move on.”
The Warriors will not be moving on, as they did a year ago en route to the D-IV regional championship game and a dozen wins. However Coach Clark concluded, regarding seniors Jamar Tarver, LueQuan McCormick, R.J. Leon, Tyler Hailey, Tom Wike, Nick Kerr, Adam Gann, Brad Bridge, Eric Kusky and Joey Clark,
“I think in the four years they played here they had the most wins of any senior class that’s been here — thirty-four or thirty-five wins in four years. To lose them, and to come into this year with people not thinking a whole hellava lot about them, the seniors stepped it up and so did the younger guys.
“I’m so proud of the seniors,” Clark continued. “It’s big. I mean, three times in-a-row? Brookfield’s never been to the playoffs three times in-a-row. Now we’ve got a class whose been there three times in-a-row and I’m very proud of them.
“They’re all gratifying,” Clark confided when asked to compare seasons. “It’s more gratifying, in the sense that it was my son’s senior year. It’s sad, that four years with him, now he’s gone.
“ ... But it’s gratifying because — the last two classes were very good; last year was the best team I’ve ever had — but I think this team here (2013) overachieved. And when you overachieve and you prosper like that, I think it’s something extra special.”
OHSAA DIV. VI, REGION 19
AQUINAS 13 7 14 14 47
BROOKFIELD 0 14 0 0 14
STA — Knowles, 31 field goal
STA — Knowles, 25 field goal
STA — DiMarzio, 35 fumble return (Knowles kick)
B — Kraml, 27 pass from Clark (Tingler kick)
STA — S.Pusateri, 11 pass from Moeglin (Knowles kick)
B — Clark, 11 run (Tingler kick)
STA — Benedetti, 67 pass from Moeglin (Knowles kick)
STA — S.Pusateri, 14 pass from Moeglin (Knowles kick)
STA — S.Pusateri, 61 pass from Moeglin (Knowles kick)
STA — Rich, 1 run (Knowles kick)
21 First downs 17
168 Rushing yards 131
240 Passing yards 146
18-11-0 Att-comp-int 25-14-1
409 Total yards 277
1-0 Fumbles-lost 2-2
5-40 Penalties-yards lost 11-95
Rushing: ST. THOMAS AQUINAS — Humphries 16-130, Rich 7-34, J.Pusateri 2-6, McCauley 3-5, Moeglin 4-(-7); BROOKFIELD — Clark 19-133, Morrison 4-14, Hailey 1-7, Necasto 10-(-23).
Passing: ST. THOMAS AQUINAS — Moeglin 18-11-0, 240; BROOKFIELD — Necasto 24-13-1, 131; Clark 1-1-0, 27.
Receiving: ST. THOMAS AQUINAS — S.Pusateri 5-103, Benedetti 3-92, Vernier 2-19, DiMarzio 1-25; BROOKFIELD — Kraml 4-55, Leon 3-52, Morrison 3-16, Tingler 2-15, Clark 2-8.