Brookfield’s 1978 title team was dominant
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — It has been 41 years since the Brookfield Warriors won the Ohio High School Athletic Association Class AA state football championship.
To this day, that crown remains the only state title ever won by a Warriors’ athletic team.
An assistant coach under head mentor John Delserone that season, Dan Deramo recalled exactly how good and how close a unit that team was as he spoke to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly program at Avion Banquet Center.
“That team was very special because they were unselfish and made many sacrifices for the good of the team,” Deramo said. “Brian Bremick, an offensive guard-middle linebacker, was one of 14 seniors on the team and he broke his leg on the very first play of the very first game of the season against Rayen.
“We now have to cover two positions, so we approach Vince Chambers, a junior who was an excellent third-string running back but was going to see limited action there. We told him our situation and he willingly sacrificed changing positions to help the team. His only request was that he go back to running back his senior season and still retain his No. 66 jersey.”
Delserone also had to find a new middle guard.
“We had Jerry Cooper, who was a second-team fullback, moved him to middle guard and he, too, accepted his new role while sacrificing for the good of the team,” Deramo said.
Delserone, who passed away at age 43 in December 1987, was the architect of that championship team, leading them to a perfect 11-0 mark which included nine straight regular season wins, a 19-14 win in the semifinals over St. Mary’s Memorial, and a 28-0 shellacking of the Hamilton Badin Rams in the title game.
“I was in my fifth season as an assistant to John and he was in his sixth year as head coach,” Deramo said. “He had taken over for Bob Bruney and we had 14 seniors on that team, which he called the true leaders of the team.
“John was very special because he knew the heartbeat of the kids. He always had their best interest in mind, plus he was dedicated to the sport. He knew the game. He was a defensive-minded coach but the old saying, to know the offense you must know defense, really rang true with him.”
During the regular season, Brookfield swept through the schedule like a runaway freight train as they shut out six opponents and outscored them by a 290-22 count. Including playoffs, they outscored their foes, 337-36, while allowing just four total touchdowns — two each to Elyria Catholic, the 1976 Class AA champion and defending runners-up in week No. 8, and to St. Mary’s Memorial in the semifinal round of the playoffs.
The Class AA playoffs existed from just 1972 to 1979 and the Warriors’ 28-0 victory in the championship game will forever remain the largest margin of victory in that class.
“It was a lot tougher to make the playoffs back then,” Deramo noted. “We were an independent team and there were three classes, AAA, AA and A. Only four teams in each class made the playoffs, but now there are seven divisions with 224 teams qualifying for postseason play.”
The Warriors ran the famed Wing-T on offense and were a 52 defensively.
Ken Brest, who accompanied Deramo to the luncheon and was a senior offensive guard and linebacker on that team, recalled that the players felt all along like they had something special developing.
“We knew that we had a good team, we just didn’t know exactly how good,” Brest said. “We weren’t just players, we were a family and a really close unit. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and the coaches handled us like family as well.
“They not only taught us about football, they taught us about life and how to be men. They prepared us for this portion of our lives, how to be good men, husbands and outstanding members of our community. When we left home for practice or a game, our parents always knew that we were in good hands.”
Five players off that state championship team earned Division I scholarships with Marcus Marek playing at Ohio State, John Lott at the University of Michigan and Darwin Ulmer at the University of Arizona.
Junior quarterback Ken Bencetic played at Kent State University, while another junior, Jimmy Dixon, played at West Virginia University.
Ulmer was named Associated Press offensive player of the year; Marek, who remains the all-time leading tackler for the Buckeyes with 572, was the AP defensive player of the year; and Delserone earned AP coach of the year laurels.
In addition to Marek, Ulmer and Lott, the other seniors included Bremick, Brest, Mark Dubrasky, Pete Durman, Rich Furillo, Emce Jones, Jay Leipheimer, Jeff Manion, Scott Poltor, Mike Sirochman and Mark Sydlowski.
Next Monday, YSU head basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun will serve as guest speaker.