By TIM CLEVELAND
After leading the junior varsity team last season and watching Jeremy Quinlan lead Brookfield to the regional finals, Augustus Necastro gained valuable experience that he has put to good use this year.
Necastro, the Warriors’ sophomore quarterback, threw for 1,300 yards with 12 touchdowns and just five interceptions in leading Brookfield to an 8-2 record and the No. 4 seed in Division VI, Region 19. Brookfield hosts Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas (8-2) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at George Nicholas Field as it begins another postseason run.
“He was a great leader,” Necastro said of Quinlan. “Sitting behind him helped me a lot. I had to step into some big shoes. I needed to step into them for us to be successful.”
Brookfield coach Randy Clark said Necastro has done the work necessary to lead the Warriors to an unexpected playoff appearance.
“He’s a very competitive kid and highly motivated,” Clark said. “He’s worked very hard. He has visions of bigger and better things and he’s done very well.
“Nobody works harder than he does. He’s put in the time in the offseason. He’s an intelligent kid, a 4.0 student. He watches film and studies the game. I knew back then (in summer camp) that his running game was not where Quinlan was, but in the mental part of the game, he excels in that.”
Having lost 12 seniors from last season’s 12-1 team, there were doubts that Brookfield could put everything together and return to the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Necastro said he’s enjoyed throwing the doubters’ skepticism back in their faces.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. Nobody thought we could make the playoffs this season. It feels good to prove everyone wrong.”
Necastro and Clark said the sophomore stepped up and played above and beyond in the first and final games of the regular season.
In Week 1 at home against Springfield, Necastro helped spearhead a 30-27 comeback victory. In the finale against LaBrae, the Warriors earned a tougher than expected 37-21 triumph.
“He played the best second half of any quarterback I’ve ever had in Week 1 and we came back and won,” Clark said. “He played flawless in the second half. Last week they shut out our running game; they had a subpar game. He played very well running the offense.”
“I think if we lose that game we don’t make the playoffs,” Necastro said of the Springfield game. “Coming back against JFK (28-14 in Week 5). Last week against LaBrae. Their record doesn’t show how good they battled the entire game.”
Despite having few expect Brookfield to even still be playing, Clark said his team will still approach St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday with a winning attitude.
“They’re very young, including Augustus,” he said. “Win and go on, lose and go home. We have high expectations. We’re very young. A lot of people didn’t expect us to be where we’re at. We have a lot of young kids who are getting experience. Any time you can play in Week 11, it’s a good thing.”
Necastro added that he and the Brookfield community are especially excited about the game, since last season’s playoff opener was moved to Girard due to excessive rain that made Addison Field unplayable.
“We’ve got to play good to win this game,” he said. “Everyone is good in the playoffs. We have to play our best game to win. I truly believe that.
“I think we have a good chance. The game is going to be electric. It’s our first home (playoff) game at Brookfield and it’s going to be huge.”