By John BASSETTI
It doesn’t take a mathe- matician to know that Brookfield High running back Ryan Mosora has the numbers to turn heads.
Yet geeks and conversion freaks are converging on this little Pennsylvania border-abutting town to study the junior’s 1,275 rushing yards.
How many feet are in 1,275 yards and how close is he to gaining a mile, they ask?
While the computation continues, Mosora could give a hoot about the square root.
He’s more concerned with Brookfield’s success so far this season and a possible playoff drive than he was being the country’s 27th-best rusher, according to MaxPreps.com.
He was No. 18 before slipping following a 96-yard performance in last weekend’s loss to Niles.
Having been part of a varsity program that produced a 1-9 record his freshman season and a 5-5 mark the following year, Mosora and teammates can’t help but feel that they’re knocking on the door in Division IV.
Now 5-1, the Warriors are having their best start since 1994 when Brookfield finished 9-1.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs and make state,” the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Mosora said of the program that won the state Class AA championship in 1978.
Except for the 1-9 season, the Warriors have been competitive, just losing close games.
“This year it’s all come together,” Mosora said. “The 1-9 season was a disaster.”
Where would Mosora be without linemen?
Not 27th, that’s for sure, so the running back points to seniors Cory Mild, Mark Hiner and Arron Gillis and juniors Erik Martin, David Jamieson and Gary Hiner.
Gillis is a first-year player who sat out last season after transferring from Badger, which doesn’t sponsor football.
Against Jefferson Area, Gillis (6-10, 370), primarily a guard, had 10 pancake blocks.
But Mosora prefers perimeter plays where TE Jimmy Quinlan and WR Colin Harkulich provide the interference during Mosora’s favorite outside zone runs.
“My speed helps out when I get around the edge,” said the son of John and Denise Cinicola Mosora. “Not too many teams are able to catch me.”
This year’s Campbell game was a thriller — and a shocker — as Brookfield won in OT after Ryan’s brother, Brandon, forced a fumble that Joe Clark scooped up and returned for a TD that forced the extra session.
After Campbell came up short on its possession, Mosora ran in the game-winner.
It qualified as a career highlight.
“When we got the ball back, I ran it in for 20 yards on the first play. I broke a tackle and was in [for the TD].”
Mosora said that Clark’s heroics came after a rare defensive insertion.
“He was put in to try to exert pressure on their quarterback,” Mosora said of Clark, who usually plays the H-back on offense.
Mosora’s freshman year was shortened by simultaneous ACL and collarbone injuries on the same play during the 2009 season’s fourth game, also against Campbell. At the time, Mosora had 215 yards on 38 attempts, but he still lettered.
As a sophomore, he only carried the ball in five games, gaining 210 yards on 33 tries. That’s because he was initially brought back as a receiver to minimize the strain on his knee, for which he wore a brace.
“I didn’t feel comfortable because I had been running the ball since Pop Warner football,” said Mosora. “I really didn’t like receiver that much, but it’s what I had to do.”
In the role, he was mostly a blocker, but he did have 110 yards receiving.
He was probably more active defensively as a cornerback, finishing with five interceptions.
The WR experience, however, comes in handy this season because, along with his 1,275 yards, Mosora has 60 yards receiving out of the backfield.
He’s taken the TB spot vacated by graduated Denny Sulick.
When Mosora gets winded, he’s replaced by sophomore R.J. Leon on defense and senior Mike Johnson on offense.
Brandon Mosora is filling in for QB Jeremy Quinlan, who broke his collarbone — also against Campbell, but only last month.
“It’s been nice having him back there,” Ryan said of his brother. “We’ve got the connection. “
Last year as a junior, Jeremy Quinlan had the most snaps as a passer, throwing for about 700 yards.
Mosora said that Brookfield’s spread offense replaces the triple option that was employed during the 1-9 season before being abandoned after injuries took their toll.
He believes that the 15 freshmen on that 2009 team, including six starters, are mainly responsible for this season’s upsurge.
The Warriors, who barely moved up a division — from V to IV this year — have beaten Trinity, Western Reserve Academy, Jefferson, Campbell and Newton Falls.
Of that national ranking, Mosora said: “It’s nice to get the stats, but I don’t want to get big-headed. I’d rather focus on getting the win.”