Without A Doubt, A Gridiron Dynasty
The Era of Coach
Donnie and The Mighty Knights
On November 14, 2010, the defending
champion Brookline Knights 13-Under team capped off another undefeated season
with a 34-0 shutout victory over the Bethel Park Hawks to capture the SSYFL
championship, aptly dubbed The Super Bowl. The game was held at West Allegheny
High School Stadium on a rainy Sunday evening. The chilly temperature did
nothing to cool the engine that propelled Brookline to their fourth
Super Bowl triumph and fifth title overall. Since 2004, these Knights have
scorched their way through the competition, year after year. These seven
seasons will be remembered as the "Era of Coach Donnie and the Mighty Knights,"
and the Brookline community can proudly lay claim to a Gridiron
The 2010 season began back in July
with high expectations. With a strong corps of veterans returning from
last year's champions, the Knights were on a mission. Nothing less than
total annihilation of any-and-all comers was their goal. Not only did they
succeed in laying waste to everything the SSYFL could assemble in their
path, they surpassed even the loftiest ambitions.
The Super Bowl shellacking of the
Bethel Park Hawks was just another in a series of weekly demonstrations in
the practice of dominance and submission. As had become their trademark,
the Knights offense was a ball control juggernaut, wearing down the
opposition with a relentless, hard-hitting assault. Whether running or
passing, Brookline had an arsenal of weapons guaranteed to assure success.
The Knight attack was led by quarterback Connor McGinnis and his thoroughbred
steed, running back Khalil Sanders. The other guns at McGinnis' disposal
included runners Joey Kalsek, Tyion Powe, Michael Roper and Donnie West,
and receivers Adam Ottaviano, Anthony Pham and Malik Petite. With a front
line that resembled a battering ram, most games were a free-for-all for
the Knight ballhandlers. Brookline scored 354 points in nine full games,
an average of 39.3 points per game. Two of the eleven Knight
victories were 6-0 forfeits.
Brookline's defense was something out
of a Friday Night Fright Fest. Adept at holding teams to negative yardage,
these Gridiron Gangsters sowed fear throughout the SSYFL. Their bone-bruising
hits and swarming style left opposing linemen, runners, receivers and
quarterbacks questioning the merits of further offensive action, oftentimes
within minutes of the opening kickoff. In the nine games actually played,
Brookline's defenders held the opposition to only twenty points, a meager
2.2 points per game, while amassing forty-two points of their own on fumble
recoveries and interception returns. The Special Teams alone outpaced the
opposing team's season production, registering twenty-four points on Tyion
Powe's four kick returns.
With the exception of hard-fought
mid-season games against North Hills and Bethel Park, the Saturday
battles were safely in hand by halftime, giving the second team plenty
of playing time. The reserve Knights always rose to the occasion,
mirroring the drive and intensity of the starters. This team's depth
chart was just loaded with talent.
Now that the dust has settled, it's
time to reflect on what was witnessed both this season and in the six
preceeding years. Never in the history of the Brookline Knights organization
has a team produced such a string of successful seasons. Beginning in 2004,
when these kids were first introduced to Coach Donnie's winning ways,
championship quality football again became a source of pride in Brookline.
A WPSYFL Twerp championship in 2004, followed by SSYFL Super Bowl triumphs
in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010, have earned them a spot as one of the best
gridiron teams to emerge from this corner of Pittsburgh.
From 2004 through 2010, they compiled a 67-8 overall record, an .893
winning percentage, and three undefeated seasons. The Knights finished the
2010 season with their 22nd consecutive victory.
For those who had the
pleasure of watching this team over the years, it's safe to say that a rare
phenomenon was witnessed. Somehow or another, the planets aligned and Brookline
was gifted with an ultra-outstanding football team. By virtue of their incredible
achievements, the Era of Coach Donnie and the Mighty Knights is now the stuff of
legend. After their second Super Bowl win in 2007, it was noted that a Dynasty was
Born. The next couple years proved that statement to be correct.
After their fourth Super Bowl win
in 2010, there could be no question. The Mighty Knights of Brookline are, without
a doubt, a Pittsburgh Gridiron Dynasty.
As happens every year, the time comes
to bid our Senior Knights adieu as they move on to the scholastic ranks and life after
the Knights. It seems even more difficult this season, after all the
title drama of the past few years. As with all teams, individual players
come and go. Not all players on the 2010 season were with the Knights in 2004.
The team evolved over time. Along with Coach Donnie and
assistants Joe Tongel and Bill O'Malley, only six players have played on
all five championship teams. Most kids are lucky to receive one title trophy.
These kids have done it five times! Congratulations to Connor McGinnis,
Joey Kalsek, Martino Stein, Garrett Martin, Gino Foster and Joey Tongel.
These young men have lived the dream. Now their distinguished Knight careers
have ended, but the memory of their achievements will live on as one of the
brightest chapters in the history of Brookline football.
The Brookline Knights
2010 SSYFL Champions!
Anthony Pham (3), Joey Tongel (40), Jeffrey
Arnold (63), Dylan DiRenna (9), William Madeja (42), Tyler Thornton (66), Edward
Jordan (10), Christopher Elstner (70), Billy O'Malley (75), Michael Roper (12),
Brendan Cunningham (54), Garrett Martin (76), Joey Kalsek (21), Edgard Fumbula (44),
Austin Reed (78), Connor McGinnis (23), Donnie West (46), Malik Petite (80),
Adam Ottaviano (85), Martino Stein (50), Joey Bonnar (81), Marty Shulik (27),
Julius Noel (52), Matt Haskins (82), Tyion Powe (30), Gino Foster (56), David
Barlow (83), Khalil Sanders (32), Bryan Bergener (58), Taylor Thornton (84),
Zacheria Sesay (34), Airshaan Warren (61), Richie Ryan (25), Michael Hennel (36),
Damarko Thomas (62) and Joey Shulik (86). The head coach is Don Helman. The
assistant coaches are Joe Tongel, Sean Stein, Jerry Tuite, George DelGreco and
Game 1 - Brookline 50
<> T-Jefferson 0
Game 2 - Brookline 44 <> Carlynton 0
Game 3 - Brookline 58 <> Brentwood 0
Game 4 - Brookline 44 <> North Hills 14
Game 5 - Brookline 22 <> Bethel Park 6
Game 6 - Brookline 6 <> West Mifflin 0
Game 7 - Brookline 24 <> Southside 0
Game 8 - Brookline 62 <> Montour 0
<Photos - Brookline vs. Thomas-Jefferson - August 28, 2010>
<Photos - Brookline vs. Carlynton - September 11, 2010>
<Photos - Brookline vs. North Hills - September 26, 2010>
<Knights News and Game-By-Game
SSYFL Opening Round
Brookline 6 <>
(Montour forfeited to Brookline)
Brookline 16 <>
Brookline 34 <>
Bethel Park 0
<Photos from the
Super Bowl - November 14, 2010>
Brooke Ammer, Meghan Hanlon, Rachel Vichie,
Chanqutavia Bell, Vivienne Johnson, Ceairra White, Delaney Bord, Lindsey Maiorano,
Hannah Wareham, Allana Dean, Maureen Marchese, Gabby Grayson, Gianna DeMarzo,
Noel Marchese, Kylie Malobisky, Kaityln Falce, Danielle Maxwell, Gia Phillips,
Tyler Grimes, Kristin Pendzich, Jessica Friedel, Briana Rainey and Kayla Sanders.
The coach is Nicole Nicholas. The assistants are Colleen Dean and Sophie
The Mighty Knights of
Brookline - 21st Century Gridiron Dynasty.
WPSYFL Champion: 2004 - SSYFL Super Bowl Champion:
A Message From Coach Don
To all the Brookline fans
What a ride it's been for the last seven
years, one of the greatest if not the greatest in any organization. Four championships
in five years in the SSYFL and five out of seven all together. This is hands down the
greatest group of kids and the toughest to ever wear the Black and Green. They showed
what hard work and dedication, and puttin' up with me, was all about.
A Head Coach is only as good as the people
and the players he surrounds himself with, and believe me, I had the best. From my
coaching staff to my players it was a recipe that couldn't lose. We were the best
year in and year out. The stats show it and so do the championships.
I would like to thank the Nicholas family
for always being there for me and our team. I hope as the kids get older and go their
separate ways that they can reflect on the years that we all had together and it could
help them to make good decisions in life and always remember no one can take this away.
If I could bottle up the last seven years I've had as a coach and sell it, I would be
a billionaire. This was hands down the best seven years of my athletic
I'm writing this to say how thankful and
humbled I am. Thank you to all my coaches and players, the cheerleaders and the
Brookline faithful. I will never forget this and I love you guys. I hope to watch
you play in high school in the next few years and always remember ...
Thank you from the bottom
of my heart,
Banquet and Awards Presentation - December 5, 2010
The End-of-Season Banquet was a time for celebration.
It was also a time for goodbyes.
Coach Donnie had a difficult time letting go of his kids. His devoted players
presented him with a plaque to honor his seven years as their
Brookline Knights Day - December 7, 2010
Proclaimed by Pittsburgh City Council
<Watch The Proclamation Being Read
In City Council Chambers - YouTube>