* 7-Under * 8-Under * 9-Under * 10-Under * 11-Under * 13-Under *
* The Perfect Day - A Fitting Tribute *
Saturday the 5th of October started off unseasonably warm and
continued to get warmer as the day progressed. For those of us
heading to the start of the 8-Under JV game at 08:00, above is
the view that presented itself when we arrived at the park.
The thermometer was rising quickly and the mist that shrouded
McGibbeny Field was thick and wet. The temperature at the start
of the first game was 66 degrees and the sun was peeking over
the horizon. It didn't take long for the rays to burn off the
fog and, over the course of six games, raise the mercury into
the mid-80s. It was a great day for football.
As the hours passed it was also proving to be an excellent day
for the Brookline Knights program. Brookline teams won five of
five games from the visiting Baldwin-Whitehall Highlanders and
also took the final game against the North Hills Chiefs. For
the Knights as a whole it was a perfect six-pack of victories.
Coach Joe during his 9-Under game.
October 5, 2013 was also a melancholy day for the program. With
the impending departure of Joe and Lisa Nicholas as leaders of
the Brookline Knights Football Association at season's end, it
became a farewell of sorts for Brookline sports fans. Being the
last home games of the season, this day would also be the final
homestand for the Nicholas family at McGibbeny Field, which has
been their base of operations for the past twenty-one years.
For Joe and Lisa, it truly is a family affair. Also currently
involved with the program are their children and grandchild,
along with Joe's brother Brian. Over the years, it seems like
everyone in Brookline's Nicholas clan has played a part in the
Lisa and Joe in November 2009.
As the day wore on and the victories piled up, it appeared as
though the football Gods were smiling down on the family that
has worked so hard to make Brookline Knights youth football an
enduring fall tradition here in our community. It was even more
appropriate that both Joe's 9-Under and Brian's 13-Under teams
won their games handily, something that has delighted fans so
often here in Brookline Park over the past two decades.
The wins were a fitting tribute to this special family that has
given so much of their lives to teaching the kids of the South
Hills area the fundamentals of prep football. For myself, it
was hard to grasp the reality of watching the end of an era.
Gina, Joe, Lisa, Nicole, Jaedyn, Jamie
and Joey on September 7, 2013.
October 5, 2013 @ McGibbeny Field
8-UNDER JV GAME (exhibition game)
BROOKLINE 14 - Baldwin 10
Maurice Trent 6 run (Dominic Monz run)
Dominic Monz 17 run (conversion failed)
Fumble Recovery: Landon Bauer, Dominic Monz
NOTES: Coach Maro's Little Knights started the day off with a
14-10 victory over Baldwin's Young Highlanders. It was a close
game from start to finish, with Brookline's offense providing
enough firepower to put the Knights on top while the defense
fought hard to hold back a pair of late-game Baldwin drives.
The Highlanders got first possession and steadily worked their
way downfield. A four yard touchdown run five minutes into the
game, followed by a good conversion, gave Baldwin an 8-0 lead.
Brookline's offense went nowhere in four plays and turned the
ball back over to Baldwin.
Grayson Nugent made a nice hit on a Baldwin runner and forced
a fumble, which was recovered by Landon Bauer. Brookline seized
the momentum, and as the clock ticked towards halftime began a
march into Baldwin territory. Long runs by Maurice Trent and
Dominic Monz moved the ball to the Highlander six yard line.
Only twenty-nine seconds remained before intermission.
On the final play of the period, Trent covered the final six
yards to the endzone, bringing the Knights within two points.
Monz added the deuce to tie the game at eight-all.
Brookline's offense opened the second half with another drive
onto Baldwin turf. Good runs by Trent and Xavier Morris brought
the Knights into the Highlander redzone. A seventeen yard dash
by Monz put Brookline ahead 14-8.
Baldwin came right back with a fifty-seven yard run that gave
them a first down at the Brookline three yard line. The Knight
defenders dug in, determined not to yield another score. The
boys in Green and Black made a tremendous goal line stand. The
Highlanders advanced only six feet in four plays. The Knights
took over at the one yard line with 3:50 left in the game.
On the next play, the Highlander defenders registered a safety,
trapping Monz in the backfield and tackling him in the endzone.
With the score now 14-10 and two minutes to play, Baldwin took
control of the ball and began one last foray across the border.
Baldwin advanced to the Brookline twenty-two yard line, where a
fine tackle by Jonathan Campagna stopped them in their tracks.
Before the buzzer sounded, the Highlanders quickly got set and
managed to get off the snap. Aidan Didion burst through the
line and pounced on the Baldwin quarterback to end the fray.
The victory improves Brookline's record to 4-1-1. Monz's second
half touchdown run gives him eleven in six games. Next week the
Little Ones finish their season away versus the Moon Tigers.
WEEK #7 - October 5, 2013 @ McGibbeny Field
BROOKLINE 14 - Baldwin 0
A'Mirre Brown 33 run (Keshawn Harris run)
Keshawn Harris 31 run (conversion failed)
Fumble Recovery: Racari El, Keyshawn Harris (2)
NOTES: Coach Jason and his eight-year olds once again rebounded
from a previous week's loss with a resounding win, this time a
14-0 shutout victory over the Baldwin Highlanders. Two exciting
touchdown runs and a staunch defense were just what the doctor
ordered to get these Knights back to their winning ways.
The game began with the Highlanders hitting a wall of Knights
and turning the ball over on downs. Keshawn Harris then burst
loose for a long gain to the Baldwin thirty. Two plays later,
A'Mirre Brown broke free and sprinted thirty-three yards for a
touchdown. Harris added the extra two for a 8-0 Knight lead.
The rest of the first half was a defensive showdown. The ball
changed hands on either side of midfield until near the end of
the second quarter. The Baldwin offense began forcing their way
downfield, reaching the Brookline twenty-two. From this high
water mark, the Knight defenders stood fast and pushed the
purple Highlanders back three yards in four plays.
With thirty seconds remaining, Brookline took over at their own
twenty-six yard line. Brown advanced the ball sixteen yards,
then Harris dashed around the right side and it was off to the
races. The enthusiasm ended abruptly when the dreaded yellow
flag was spotted on the field. Keshawn's fine run was negated.
Brookline had one more play before halftime. Harris got the
return call. Once again Keshawn hit a hole and the chase was
on. This time he was caught from behind and brought down after
a twenty-nine yard gain. As the Knights gathered in the corner
of the endzone for the intermission break, the Brookline
cheerleaders got the crowd buzzing with their dance routine.
Brookline got the ball to start the second half and picked up
where they left off. Harris bulled his way forward with runs of
thirteen and seventeen yards. The promising drive stalled and
the Knights were forced to punt. The ball took a Brookline roll
and was downed inside the Baldwin ten yard line.
After four plays Baldwin kicked the ball back to the Knights,
who began their series at the Highlander forty. Harris ran for
nine yards, then covered the remaining distance to the endzone
on the following play. On the conversion run, Racari El was
downed just inches shy of the goal. Brookline had to settle for
six points and a 14-0 advantage.
The Knight defenders continued harrassing the Highlanders and
forced another change of possession deep in Baldwin territory.
From the thirty-six, Brookline went to their warhorse Harris,
who responded with a seventeen yard run. Racari El added ten
more to move the ball to the eleven yard line. After Harris
kept the drive alive with two fumble recoveries, an errant
Brookline pass was intercepted, ending this final opportunity.
Baldwin ran three plays in the last minute to end the game.
It was a good win for the Eights, who improved their season
record to 4-2. Next week it's on to Moon to meet the Tigers.
WEEK #7 - October 5, 2013 @ McGibbeny Field
BROOKLINE 38 - Baldwin 22
Zaire Nelson 47 run (conversion failed)
Asahn Bey-Davis 13 run (conversion failed)
Brandon Pezzelle 49 run (Zaire Nelson run)
Zaire Nelson 65 kickoff return (conversion failed)
Brandon Pezzelle 43 run (conversion failed)
Zaire Nelson 16 run (conversion failed)
Fumble Recovery: Keegan Derrick, Tristin Christe
Interception: Asahn Bey-Davis
NOTES: In what could be the final home game in the illustrious
twenty-one year career of the Brookline Knights legendary Coach
Joe Nicholas, his nine-year olds engineered a proper sendoff by
beating the Baldwin Highlanders, 38-22.
Nobody really said much about it, but you could see it in his
fiery football eyes. This was his swan song at McGibbeny Field,
and he was primed for a victory. Like the well-coached warriors
they are, his young Knights took to the gridiron and delivered.
This was Coach Joe's day, and the Knights had 'em all the way!
This day, like so many others in year's past, was far from free
of peril. It was marked by both exhilaration and anxiety. Each
time his Knights built a modest lead, the stubborn Highlanders
fought back to within striking distance. This was the kind of
game made for a crafty veteran like Coach Joe, and in the end
he did what he does best, leading his young Knights to victory.
Brandon Pezzelle began the game with a booming kickoff that
positioned Baldwin deep in their own territory. Three plays and
a punt later, Brookline's offense stood ready at midfield. On
their second play from scrimmage, Zaire Nelson found the crease
and darted into the open ground. Forty-seven yards later the
Knights were celebrating a 6-0 lead.
A Keegan Derrick fumble recovery on the Highlanders next series
gave Brookline a second helping of good field position. Nelson
took a Pezzelle screen pass and turned it into a thirty yard
gain. Asahn Bey-Davis followed up with a thirteen yard scoring
run to increase the Knights advantage to 12-0.
Baldwin struck back quickly. A fifty-seven yard run to begin
the second quarter advanced the Highlanders to the Brookline
three. Two plays later they punched it across the plane and
added the two-point conversion to make the score 12-8.
Brookline took the ensuing kickoff and answered that challenge
with a fourteen yard pass from Pezzelle to Tristin Christe. The
speedy Pezzelle then bootlegged left and sprinted forty-nine
yards for the Knights third touchdown. A good conversion run
by Nelson re-established the cushion at twelve points.
The feisty Highlanders weren't about to go down quietly. They
responded by launching a sixty-one yard drive that culminated
in a one yard touchdown blast. A two-point pass trimmed the
tenuous Brookline lead to 20-16.
There was still 2:31 left in the first half. The Highlander
defense stopped the Knights next series of plays and forced
a punt. A long return put Baldwin at the Brookline ten with
one play remaining. Bey-Davis rose to the occasion with a
timely interception to clear the purple haze and send the
Knights into halftime clinging to a four-point edge.
The second half began with Nelson increasing the point spread
to ten points with a sixty-five yard kickoff return. A Christe
fumble recovery moments later gave the ball back to Brookline
near midfield. The Knights increased their lead to 32-16 when
Pezzelle scampered forty-three yards on another bootleg.
As the third quarter wound down, a Baldwin runner once again
got free in the Knights defensive backfield and fled all the
way to the Brookline one before Pezzelle pulled him down from
behind. Despite Brandon's efforts, Baldwin went on to score,
cutting the Brookline lead to 32-22.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Knights scored their
sixth touchdown of the game, a sixteen yard run by the swift
Zaire. Baldwin launched one final flurry of offense. The game
clock wound down to zero after the Highlanders advanced to
the Brookline twenty-eight yard line. Final score: 38-22.
The Knights offense played their best game so far this season
and the defense, led by Coach Joey Nicholas, did a fine job
of keeping the Highlanders at bay when the going got tough.
And, to the delight of the fans and friends of the Knights
organization, it all came together in the form of a Brookline
Knight triumph to help celebrate the man who best personifies
the hard work, dedication and ideals of prep football here in
the neighborhood of Brookline, our beloved Coach Joe Nicholas.
Way to go Knights, and Thank You to Coach Joe and the entire
Nicholas family for all of your years of devotion to the
Knights and the Brookline community. This win was for you!
photos from the 9-Under Baldwin game>
WEEK #7 - October 5, 2013 @ McGibbeny Field
BROOKLINE 44 - Baldwin 0
Jamyle Liebro 46 run (Antwan Peterson run)
Antwain Carter 13 run (conversion failed)
Grant Hamilton 4 run (Visawn Pennix run)
Jamyle Liebro 26 run (Raeshawn Caldwell run)
Visawn Pennix 15 run (conversion failed)
Raeshawn Caldwell 65 run (Visawn Pennix run)
Fumble Recovery: Raeshawn Caldwell
NOTES: Coach Bruce and his Cardiac Kids gave the Knights fans
a bit of a respite from the usual game plan. Instead of keeping
everyone on the edge of their seats before pulling out another
close victory, the Brookline Tens gave their faithful followers
the sweet sensation of watching a good old-fashioned blowout.
The Knights unleashed all of their weapons against the Baldwin
Highlanders and walked away from the field with a 44-0 victory.
The scoring blitz began on Brookline's first play. A handoff
to Jamyle Liebro ended forty-six yards away with a goal line
celebration a mere fifteen seconds into the game. Quarterback
Antwan Peterson wheeled to the right and into the endzone for
the conversion and an 8-0 Knight lead. Moments later, Raeshawn
Caldwell picked up a Baldwin fumble and returned it forty-three
yards for another score. It was nullified by a holding penalty.
Not to be detered, Antwain Carter made good on the points three
plays later with a thirteen yard run to increase the score to
14-0. The Highlanders responded with a brief burst of offense
that produced a first down. Brookline's defenders countered by
pushing them back ten to their original point of departure. It
was that kind of day for the Highlanders.
Brookline's third possession of the contest saw quarterback
Grant Hamilton scamper twenty-three yards to the Baldwin eight,
then follow up with a four yard touchdown run. Visawn Pennix
added the two-pointer to bring the point tally to twenty-two.
Once again, the Knight defense stifled the Baldwin attack and
forced a change of possession. At 7:22 of the second quarter,
Liebro notched his second scoring run of the day, followed by
Caldwell's extra points. While the clock approached the end of
the half, Mekhi Gay almost single-handedly forced the Baldwin
line into reverse with two backfield tackles and a sack.
When Baldwin failed to convert on fourth down, Brookline took
control of the ball. Pennix added to the point parade with a
fifteen yard run before the buzzer sounded to give the Knights
an insurmountable 36-0 halftime lead.
Time seemed to fly in the second half. The merciful running
clock became the Highlanders greatest ally, because the Knights
just could not stop scoring touchdowns. With one minute to go
in the third quarter, Caldwell burst loose and sprinted sixty
yards for a score. A penalty negated his effort. The Knights
reran the same play. Caldwell took the snap and this time ran
it sixty-five yards for the Knights sixth touchdown of the
afternoon. A Pennix deuce ended the scoring fest at forty-four.
As the game clock ticked towards the inevitable buzzer, Pennix
made a final effort to bring the point spread to the magic 50.
After a last minute Baldwin drive petered out at the Brookline
nine, Pennix took a Hamilton handoff and sped ninety-one yards
down the right sideline for what looked to be a seventh Knight
touchdown. Alas, a penalty flag spoiled the magic, but could
not erase the fact that for the past forty minutes the scrappy
Brookline Knights had simply pounded the Baldwin Highlanders.
Next week the 5-1 Knights meet the Moon Tigers in the regular
season finale. Coach Bruce and the Kids are still hoping to
secure a high seeding in the upcoming post-season. So let's
kick some Tiger tail and be assured of at least second place.
photos from the 10-Under Baldwin game>
WEEK #7 - October 5, 2013 @ McGibbeny Field
BROOKLINE 40 - Baldwin 0
Marques Watson 1 run (Mason Ventrone run)
Mason Ventrone 10 run (conversion failed)
Marques Watson 69 run (conversion failed)
Mason Ventrone 25 run (Aaron King pass from Nick Roell)
Mason Ventrone 44 pass from Nick Roell (conversion failed)
Jahmaine Hatten 36 run (conversion failed)
Fumble Recovery: J.B. Nelson, Quinn Hunter, Ryan Elliott
NOTES: Coach Donnie and his herd of Wild Stallions continued
their stampede through the ranks of the SSYFL with a 40-0 win
over the Baldwin Highlanders. The shutout victory polishes the
Knights unblemished record to a 6-0 shine with one game to go
before the start of the 2013 post-season. It was also another
dominant outing that served as further confirmation that the
defending Super Bowl champions are better than ever and eager
to defend their crown against any and all comers.
Brookline's thoroughbreds Marques Watson and Mason Ventrone
again wreaked havoc on the opposing defense. The pair of sturdy
warhorses combined for three touchdowns on three possessions
as the Knights sprinted to a 20-0 halftime lead. On the flip
side of the ball, the Knight defense completely throttled the
Highlander offense, holding them to an average of one yard per
carry for the game. Over fifty percent of the Baldwin plays
were stopped for no gain or a loss of yardage.
The Knights doubled up on their point total in the second half
with two more touchdowns from Ventrone and one from Jahmaine
Hatten, bringing the final tally to forty. As for Baldwin's
helpless Highlanders, it was more of the same. Their offense
was held motionless and their defense emerged from the trenches
tattered and torn. When the buzzer sounded to end the game they
all breathed a collective sigh of relief and headed for home.
For the statisticians among us, the Knights gained 259 total
yards. Brookline rushed eighteen times for 215 and completed
two of five passes for forty-seven more. Watson ran for 118
yards on five carries, and Ventrone added fifty-seven on four
touches. Ventrone's triple-six brings his season touchdown
total to eleven, while Watson's pair were his sixth and
seventh. Other runners were Jahmaine Hatten 4/34 and Jonathan
Morin 3/7. Morin has six touchdowns to his credit this year
and Hatten has now run for three.
Baldwin ran thirty plays from scrimmage and gained thirty-one
total yards. Defensive standouts for the Knights included James
"J.B" Nelson with a fumble recovery, blocked punt and several
bruising hits, along with Aidan Logan, who contributed a sack
and many key tackles. Everyone who wore the black and green
seemed to have a productive day on either offense or defense.
It was that kind of game for the Brookline Knights.
Next week Brookline's rampaging herd gallops to Moon Township
for the regular season finale against the Moon Tigers. It will
most likely be another shock and awe treatment, but who knows.
Anything can happen. That's why we play the game.
Here's a thought to ponder for the next couple of days. In the
seventeen games since the start of last season, the Knights are
17-0 and have beaten those seventeen teams by a combined score
of 572-38. These hungry steeds are bigger, badder and stronger
than ever. The game is Sunday, 4:00pm, at Moon High School.
WEEK #7 - October 5, 2013 @ McGibbeny Field
BROOKLINE 28 - North Hills 14
Curtis Bradley 27 run (conversion failed)
Quran Powe 68 punt return
(Brent Ivory pass from Jeremy Jenkins)
Quran Powe 40 punt return (Khalil Weathers run)
Khalil Weathers 4 run (conversion failed)
Fumble Recovery: Mar Oaks
Interception: Justice Jones
NOTES: Brookline's Elder Knights staked their claim to a spot
in the 2013 SSYFL Super Bowl with a 28-14 victory over the
North Hills Chiefs. The Knights remain undefeated after six
games and early indications are that Brookline will meet the
Bethel Park Hawks in the post-season's Big Dance.
Brookline got on the board first at the five minute mark of the
first quarter with Curtis Bradley's twenty-seven yard scoring
run. The Brookline lead was increased to 14-0 two minutes later
when Quran Powe returned a North Hills punt sixty-eight yards
for a quick six. Brent Ivory's conversion reception from Jeremy
Jenkins put the Knights on top 14-0.
After exchanging the ball twice near midfield, North Hills hit
the jackpot with a fifty-two yard touchdown pass to cut the
Knight advantage to eight points. A nice kickoff return by
Raekwon Caldwell gave Brookline good field position with three
minutes remaining. Brookline threatened to score again before
the half, driving deep into Chief territory. An interception
at the North Hills sixteen ended the promising effort. The
Knights entered the intermission holding onto a 14-6 lead.
North Hills took the second half kickoff and went nowhere on
three plays. The Chiefs elected to punt and booted the ball in
the direction of Powe, the Knights kick return specialist. In a
flash, Quran grabbed the pigskin and did his thing. He shredded
through the defenders and ended his dance in the Chief endzone.
Khalil Weathers added his two cents to make the score 22-6.
One minute later, North Hills fired back with a halfback option
pass that went for sixty yards and six points. A two-point toss
brought the Chiefs back to within eight of the Knights. North
Hills tried an onside kick, which was recovered by Ivory.
At this point the game stalled. Neither team was able to move
the ball beyond a token first down until the four minute mark.
The Knights defense had North Hills pinned deep in their own
zone. Justice Jones intercepted a North Hills pass and returned
it twelve yards to the Chief sixteen. Caldwell ran for a first
down, then Weathers covered the final four yards to the goal.
The Knight defense, bolstered by the fine play of Dominick Emma
and Nathan Kendall, shut down the Chief attack during the last
series of plays. A Mar Oaks fumble recovery with less than one
minute to go was the final shot fired in this battle. Reserve
quarterback Evan Miller, who played most of the second half for
the ailing Jenkins, took a knee to end the game.
For the game, Brookline's offense gained 133 total yards, 159
rushing on twenty-six carries, and three through the air. Powe
led all runners with sixty-six yards on twelve carries. Other
runners included Caldwell 5/49, Bradley 2/28, Weathers 5/9 and
Jenkins 2/6. The Chiefs set the Knights back twenty-nine yards
with four sacks. On the other side of the line, North Hills had
190 yards total offense. The Chiefs rushed eighteen times for
sixty yards and completed eight of fifteen passes for 149. The
Knights registered three sacks, inflicting nineteen yards in
losses. Brookline held a slight 6-5 advantage in first downs.
Next week, Coach Brian's 6-0 Knights take on the Moon Tigers,
and the following week they meet the Bethel Park Hawks in the
regular season final. The Hawks look to be the only team that
can challenge Brookline's claim to the top seed and, barring a
shift in the polar magnetic fields, will emerge as the Knights
opponent in the SSYFL Super Bowl VIII*.
And now for the melancholy part of the story. Like his brother
Joe, the coach of the nine-year olds, this could be the final
home game at McGibbeny Field for Coach Brian, another legendary
Knights mentor and veteran of seventeen years on the sidelines.
Brian and Joe joined the Knights coaching staff in 1993, and
together won four Midget championships (1996-1997-1998-2000).
Brian was in retirement from 2009-2012, returning this year for
a final chance at title glory. It has been heart-warming to see
him back in his familiar spot on the sideline, and equally
pleasing to see him walk off McGibbeny Field a winner in his
final game before the home crowd. Way to go Knights!
It was nice to see Chris and Lenny back in the booth announcing
the game. They are Brookline's uncanny version of Stan and Guy.
* Note: The 13-Under playoffs have been restructured this year
due to the five-team season format. Only the top two teams will
be represented in the playoffs, and that one playoff game is
the 2013 SSYFL 13-Under Super Bowl game.
Brookline Knights Flashbacks - 1994 and 2000
Coaches Brian and Joe Nicholas joined the Brookline Knights in
1993. The brothers coached together for many years. Shown here
is their Midget team from 1994 that lost in the championship
game. Another second place finish came in 1995, and then they
began their string of four consecutive championship seasons.
Through the tireless efforts of Joe, Brian and their respective
families, the Brookline Knights soon became one of the most
respected youth football programs in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Coaches Brian and Joe Nicholas with Earl Taylor
after the 2000 WPSYFL Midget championship game.
Let's keep this train-a-rollin' and bring home one last title
for the men who have been such excellent instructors and good
friends to the thousands of players who have donned the Green
and Black of the Brookline Knights over the past two decades.
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