BROOKFIELD – Randy Clark is entering his 18th season as the head coach at Brookfield. He also knows it’s going to be one of the toughest.

During a practice earlier this month, Clark stressed the importance of focus and consistency to his players as they prepared for the opener against Ursuline. It won’t get any easier as the Warriors travel to Springfield, last year’s Division VI runner-up.

“We’re starting off with probably one of the better teams that we’ve played in a long time around here,” Clark said. “We’re gonna have to play very, very well to be competitive.”

The Warriors open the season Thursday after coming off a 7-4 season that saw Brookfield reach the Division VI regional quarterfinal in 2021. The Warriors shut out United 26-0 on the road before falling to top-seeded LaBrae 37-14.

A number of talented players return from last season, especially at the skill positions on offense.

Senior Donovan Pawlowski returns at quarterback for the Warriors. The signal caller threw for 1,596 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception on 113-of-195 passing. He also ran for 869 and 15 touchdowns on 158 carries last season.

Senior 6-foot, 4-inch receiver Isaiah Jones, who caught 47 passes for 676 yards and five touchdowns, is the main target among a group of receivers that has impressed Clark with their speed.

The Warriors’ offense begins with the running game, however. Connor Heater and Ryan Tetrick return at offensive tackle. Bradyn Litz also came back at center.

Sophomore Christian Davis returns at running back after rushing for 557 yards and seven touchdowns on 55 carries in his first year of high school ball. Junior track standout Aiden Jones will also see more time following the loss of Teandre Craig, last season’s leading producer at running back.

“We have a great situation because we have a great young back and a good offensive line to run the ball,” Clark said. “And we also have a good quarterback that can run and throw to some pretty dang good receivers. We have the best of both worlds. We just have to stay focused.”

Junior Kaiden Kirila and senior AJ Bartolin return at linebacker. Bartolin led the Warriors with 108 tackles in 2021. Clark expects Kirila to standout in the second level after bouncing between linebacker and defensive end last season.

Tetrick will man the middle at nose guard on the defensive line. Heater will play defensive end while Colin Murphy man’s the other end position.

Xzavier Witherow, Brett Carsone, Jones and Davis return in the secondary. Pawlowski will also see some time on defense, according to Clark.

On special teams, Jones will handle punting responsibilities. Tetrick will be the long snapper. Davis and Jones will return kicks.

The Warriors have a kicking competition between senior Cole Saloom and junior Brian Smith, who was the team’s kicker last season.

“Brian Smith did all of our kicking last year. Cole was here last year, but he’s the distance kicker, the further kicker,” Clark said.

The Warriors had over 40 players during camp. Clark said it was the first time “in a long time” that his roster was north of 40.

“Some key players have to stay away from injury, but we do have some support,” Clark said. “Younger guys that are able to step in and help us out.”

But that added depth doesn’t matter if the players aren’t focused. Clark said first step before diving into a challenging start and a difficult Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference schedule.

“Our season goals are to be league champs, and not just make playoffs. We want to win a lot of games in the playoffs,” Clark said.

“Our league is going to be really good. We always got the Garfields and the LaBraes and the Crestviews, but I think teams like Champion, Newton Falls and Liberty are going to be just as good this year. They got a lot of kids back. It’s going to be a tough conference.



Tonight – at Ursuline; Aug. 26 – at Springfield Local; Sept. 2 – Western Reserve; 9 – at Liberty; 16 – at Campbell Memorial; 23 – Crestview; 30 – at Newton Falls; Oct. 7 – LaBrae; 14 – at Garfield; 21 – Champion.

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