By JOHN BASSETTi
Sealing a playoff spot was the objective of the Brookfield High football team.
Friday’s 37-21 win over LaBrae should make room for an appreciable gain for the Warriors in the Division VI Region 19 standings.
“We have a real legitimate shot at a home game,” Brookfield head coach Randy Clark said. “Last year, we weren’t able to play [a home game] because of a storm and [our game] was moved to Girard.
“Brookfield deserves a home game and that’s what we’re shooting for,” Clark said. “With a little help from teams that we beat, we might be here again next week.”
Although the Warriors didn’t match their 10-0 regular season-record of 2012, this year’s 8-2 record is a significant achievement considering what Brookfield lost via graduation.
“If you would have told me that we’d be 8-2 at the end of the year, I would have called you a liar,” Clark said. “We didn’t have any pretty victories or 2,000-yard rusher, but these kids didn’t quit.”
Kasey Tingler had a field goal and a touchdown catch from Augustus Necastro that covered 24 yards while Nate Morrison scored on runs of 4 and 50 yards.
Tingler, a sophomore, got Brookfield on the board first with a 37-yard field goal.
At the end of the third quarter, LaBrae pulled within 23-21 on Justin Jenkins’ 19-yard pass to Jamal Dawkins and Austin Jones’ point-after.
Then Brookfield put together a drive that blended air and ground. It culminated in Joey Clark’s 6-yard touchdown and Tingler’s conversion kick to give the Warriors a 30-21 lead.
“In the first half, we saw how they were taking Joey out of the game in the A and B gaps, so we knew we had to get outside with passes,” Randy Clark said. “Then we worked a little on the inside and knew that, if we could pass-block and had receivers open, then our quarterback and receivers could play pitch and catch.”
Necastro had two passes apiece to R.J. Leon and Marc Kraml for decent gains. Setting up Clark’s runs were Zach Hosick, Carmen Furillo, Josh Sinkuc, Nick Kerr and Brad Bridge.
Tingler’s kicks played a role, too, keeping LaBrae off-balance on returns.
“His nickname is ‘Psycho’ because we never know what part of him is going to show up,” Randy Clark said. “But he did a great job kicking for us and he made a couple nice, big catches, too.”
Clark was referring to Tingler’s four receptions for 77 yards, second only to Leon’s six for 80.
“We don’t know what we’re doing until we line up and they line up,” Clark said of the kickoff team. “Then we tell them what we want to do to keep them [the opponent] off balance as much as possible.”
LaBrae coach John Armeni said he told his kids after the game that he’d like his program to be at Brookfield’s level, especially at crunch time.
“That’s what we aspire to be — to make those plays down the stretch,” Armeni said. “We’re knocking on the door, but Brookfield’s there.”
Marcell Richardson was the game’s top receiver and Jenkins completed 11 of 22 throws for 277 yards. Richardson had three catches for 166 yards, including one covering 80 yards for a TD.
Although the Vikings had expectations of spoiling Brookfield’s playoff chances, Armeni said the game meant something else.
“It was a measuring stick for our program. We were sitting at 5-4, preaching to the kids that we wanted to be 6-4 and have that winning season after a 1-9 campaign last year. Unfortunately, down the stretch, they made more plays than we made.”
LaBrae’s coach felt that the Warriors were effective in many phases, starting with kickoffs, both short and long.