Reflecting, Randy Clark can recall the years 1978 and 1994.
Only a 9th-grader, he nonetheless was part of the program as Brookfield High’s football team captured the ’78 Ohio High School Athletic Association AA state championship. That year’s Warriors went 11-0 under legendary coach John Delserone.
Fast-forward 16 seasons, and Brookfield built a 10-2 ledger before bowing to Benedictine in the Division IV Region 13 finals. That marked the last time the Warriors went to the postseason ... until tonight.
Brookfield (9-1) will travel to Lodi, Ohio to meet Norwayne (9-1) at Cloverleaf High in a D-IV opening-round game at 7 p.m.
“Believe me, we’re excited!” Clark confided recently. Ringing telephones notwithstanding, he wasn’t complaining.
“It’s very exciting, emotional; it feels great, having everybody behind us, the community, the whole school ...
“Me, especially,” he admitted. “I’ve been back here since ’99. My main goal was to put Brookfield back on the map, and I think we’ve done our part. But it’s really exciting, going from a couple 3-7 seasons, 1-9 seasons, 5-5 (last year); it’s exciting for me because I’ve been part of this since the mid-70’s.
“It reminds me of the mid-70’s, early 80’s with the community and the excitement,” Clark continued. “All of my staff are Brookfield alumni, and they’re all excited. All these guys played at Brookfield, coached at Brookfield, and none of us have ever been in the playoffs.”
While Brookfield has been buoyed by an indepent schedule, Norwayne will be a notch up in terms of caliber of competition. The Bobcats rebounded for a 33-22 win over previously-undefeated Hillsdale last week. According to The (Wooster) Daily Record that earned them a share of the Wayne County Athletic League championship with Hillsdale and Smithville. The latter laid the lone loss on Norwayne (19-14) in Week 9.
“They were in the playoffs last year, they lost in the second round to (eventual state champion) Ursuline,” Clark recalled. “They run a spread offense and have a very good running and throwing quarterback (Adam Wallace), who’s very similar to (Brookfield’s Jeremy) Quinlan. They run the same style of offense as us, but might throw the ball a little more than we do. Up front they’re not big, but athletic. They run a lot of zone-read and misdirection,” Clark continued, adding, “They run a lot of that stuff through their quarterback.”
Illustrating Clark’s contention, Wallace went 12 for 21 for 117 yards and a trio of TDs in last week’s win, orchestrating a 5-play, 68-yard, game-winning drive in the final 1:40, according to The Daily Record. He also posted a 30-carry, 145-yard, 1-TD rushing performance, and made a key defensive play with 2:45 left. After Norwayne notched the lead on Wallace’s 10-yard TD toss to Mitch Knieriem with 50.5 ticks, Jon Maibach, 33 seconds later, secured the win with a 38-yard interception return.
“Defensively, again, they’re not big,” Clark claimed. “They run a 4-2, and they’re led by that inside linebacker (Wallace).”
Under the direction of coach Joe Harbour, Norwayne notched wins over Wellington (35-0), Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (40-7), Western Reserve (56-7), Northwestern (55-8), Rittman (61-7), Waynedale (46-0), Chippewa (61-8), Dalton (69-15) and Hillsdale, avenging last year’s loss and snapping the latter’s school-record 17-game and WCAL 10-game winning skeins. Hillsdale advanced to the 2010 D-V regional finals.
Norwayne, not unlike Brookfield, has had some success, interspersed with droughts. According to The Daily Record, Norwayne won only the 1965 and 2008 WCAL championships before last week.
The game originally was scheduled for Friday night in Norwayne, but a saturated field necessitated the move. A synthetic-surface field may play to Brookfield’s bountiful Ryan Mosora (232 attempts, 1,895 yards rushing, 8.1 yards/carry, 17 TDs, 114 points).
“He’s not a ‘mudder’; he likes to hit the perimeter quick and go,” Clark confided.
Additionally, Clark pronounced the Warriors “one-hundred percent healthy ... healthier now than we’ve been all year,” including Quinlan, who accounted for almost 300 total yards in last week’s regular season-ending win over Beaver Local.
While Quinlan recuperated from a broken collarbone, Brandon Mosora “stepped in and did a phenomenal job in those four games!” Clark gushed. “Now he’ll be in the slot, his original position.”
Clark’s ideal game plan would be to “take control early with our size. With (the Bobcats’) lack of size if we’re able to run the ball at them, go to a different part of our game ... see what adjustments they make.”
Owing to Quinlan’s accurate arm, Brookfield has been “throwing the ball a little more than in the past,” Clark noted, regarding the Warriors’ 30.2 points and 374.3 yards per game (almost doubling opponents’ 15.1 and 189.5, respectively).
Will Brookfield be bug-eyed by the bright lights of the OHSAA playoffs for the first time since ’94?
“I think the kids, right now, are responding like it’s a normal week,” Clark confided. “I know there’s a lot of excitement at school, but practices have been normal as possible. The kids are excited, but practicing hard, real cooperative, eager — they’re ready to go.
“It’s been 17 years since Brookfield’s been in this situation, since ’94, so they’re excited,” Clark confirmed.
Delserone died from Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). His last year coaching the Warriors was 1981, Clark’s senior season.
“I believe he’d be really proud,” Clark concluded. “I still use a lot of his philosophies. Everything I got from ‘Coach Dell’ I try to use as much as I can in today’s football. He was a great coach, ahead of his time, just phenomenal! He taught me a lot of football, and, hopefully, I’m using it in the right way.” — Herald sports writer Rob Malsom contributed research for this preview.
Reflecting, Randy Clark can recall the years 1978 and 1994.
Breese defends heavyweight title at PIAA Championships
HERSHEY, Pa. — Move over Rod Wright!
Lakeview senior heavyweight star Sam Breese had a goal coming into the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center — besides winning a second state crown, that is.
WM knocks off Neshannock in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — The notion of Trey Staunch sneaking up on opposing teams is laughable. At 6-foot-3 and approximately 225 pounds, the stout Staunch is not sneaking up on anyone.
However after posting a game-high 31-point, 18-rebound performance in West Middlesex High basketball team’s 76-66 PIAA Class AA playoffs opening-round win over Neshannock Saturday night, Staunch said opponents may have been overlooking the Big Reds.
Hickory girls 26-0, oust Johnstown
SLIPPERY ROCK — At Morrow Field House Saturday evening, the Hickory Lady Hornets kept the perfect season alive with a 63-37 state playoff first round win over the Greater Johnstown Trojans from District 6.
“It feels great to get the win (Saturday),” said veterans Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead. “We’ve been at this place over the last few years and we’ve been sent home in the first round so it was a huge win for us. I’m very proud of our team effort."
KC girls roll past California in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball team was in the ’hood Saturday afternoon.
Led by senior Taylor Hood, the Lady Golden Eagles eased past California, 53-34, in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Lakeview's Breese to defend PIAA title
HERSHEY, Pa. — If you are Major League Baseball player, a .333 batting average is great. But in wrestling at the state tournament — not so much!
Out of the dozen wrestlers that Mercer County sent to Hershey for the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships, only four (.333) will reach the medal stand today — led by Lakeview senior Sam Breese who shoots for a second straight gold medal.
Farrell edges Montour, 60-57, in PIAA opener
Montour High boys’ basketball coach Adam Kaufman lamented another season-ending setback. However there are several hundred coaches across the Commonwealth who envy his program’s recent success and would trade places with him in a heartbeat.
But during Friday night’s PIAA Class AAA playoff opener, Kaufman & Co. could not overcome those streaky Steelers ... those survivin’ Steelers.
“ ... Hey, survive and move on,” summarized Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse following Farrell’s 60-57 win at Sharon High.
GCC ousts Mercer in 1st round of PIAAs
The Mercer Lady Mustangs were outscored 16-4 in the final quarter of the first round of the state playoffs by the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions, ending their season Friday night 56-31 at Sharon High School.
Senior Lexie Arkwright had a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double performance for the Lady M’s. She also snagged three steals. Adelyn Cook and Haylie Glass each added 4 points for Mercer.
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
HERSHEY — Mercer County matmen had mixed results on the opening day of action in the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
Boys PIAA basketball preview boxes
Who: Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8).
What: Opening round.
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Where: Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium.
Hickory, Mercer, KC girls PIAA playoff boxes
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Shannonhouse's Steelers set for statewide stage
With the approaching spring, a young man’s fancy turns to ... what else? The PIAA playoffs. And when Shenango Valley scholastic basketball aficionados think of the postseason they think of Farrell.
Recently at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the banners above were blowing in the breeze — ’52 ... ’54 ... ’56 ... ’59 ... ’60 ... ’69 ... ’72 — swaying as sprinting players created a vacuum of air rising from the floor. Melodramatic maybe, but there’s a feeling at Farrell that harkens back to the heyday when playoff success was a rite of passage.
Breese eyes repeat at state mat tourney
There is no doubt that winning a state championship in wrestling is a difficult thing to do. Winning two is even tougher.
“There’s a target on your chest,” pointed out Lakeview High coach Tom Tingley in preseason this year, referring to his star wrestler Sam Breese who won a state heavyweight crown as a junior last year.
Obviously that target hasn’t bothered the Sailors big man who is a perfect 32-0 this season as he attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple titles.
WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: It's a young group of county matmen headed to state
THERE’S definitely a youth movement in Mercer County wrestling as demonstrated by the group of 11 matmen who are advancing to the PIAA State Class AA Championships on Thursday.
Eight of the locals are underclassmen. The only seniors are Lakeview’s Sam Breese (285), Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamestown’s Mohamed Messai (182).
Breese and Stoyer are the only returning state place-winners. Breese, who has verbally committed to Kent State University to wrestle next season, won the heavyweight class and is seeking a second gold medal. Stoyer placed 7th at 145 and wants to climb much higher on the medals stand.
Kennedy boys forfeit win, are out of playoffs
The PIAA basketball playoffs do not begin until Friday, but Mercer County already lost a team.
Kennedy Catholic High disclosed Monday the discovery of an academically-ineligible player, who competed in last Friday’s District 10 Class A consolation contest.
Kennedy Catholic edged Eisenhower in double-OT, 66-62, earning a berth in the statewide tournament. The Golden Eagles were to meet District 9 champion Ridgway Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium in the opening round; instead, Eisenhower will represent D-10 as its 3rd-place team.
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