Brookline Knights Reclaim The SSYFL Title
Coach Brian Wins One For The Thumb
On November 3, 2013, the thirteen-year
old Brookline Knights played in the Super Bowl for the second time in three
years, and triumphed over the Bethel Park Hawks, 20-6. The victory was
Brookline's ninth in a row, capping off an unblemished 9-0 season. After
the game, the proud Knights gathered at midfield and hoisted the glimmering
trophy, proclaiming themselves champions of the SSYFL. It is a title they
also held two seasons ago.
For the Knights, the return to the
top was a long, hard road. After the exhilaration of the 2011 title,
the team fell on tough times last year, posting a 3-6 record. This season,
the Brookline players were determined to regain their championship
The path to the Knights undefeated
season began on August 24, when Brookline took on the Moon Tigers. It
was a time when the team was still feeling the sting of the previous
year's losing effort. Nagging doubts threatened to derail the campaign
before it started. Adding to the anxiety, several key players were unable
to make weight and others were not present.
Reserve quarterback Evan Miller
started the game and went down early with an injury. The Knights turned
to Nathan Ault, a twelve-year old backup. Ault rose to the task and
led the team on two scoring drives. The defense contributed another
twelve points on takeaways.
First-year Knight Raekwon Caldwell,
playing on an injured ankle, returned both a fumble and an interception
for touchdowns. The Knights squeaked by the Tigers, 26-22. This first
game, won under difficult circumstances, was the catalyst in reversing
the Knights kharma. The Moon victory was just what the team needed to
restore its confidence.
In Week #1, Nathan Ault (#22)
and Raekwon Caldwell (#7) provided the spark that ignited the
The roster soon stabilized,
and from that point on the squad grew stronger game-by-game. After a
decisive victory in Week #2 over North Hills, and two dominating wins
over West Mifflin, the 4-0 Knights squared off at home against the
undefeated Bethel Park Hawks. In an early-season clash of titans,
Brookline crushed Bethel Park, 40-6.
After vanquishing North Hills
and Moon for a second time, Brookline traveled to Bethel for a
rematch in the regular season finale. A Hawk victory would put the
teams in a tie for first place. On a wet, cold night, the Knights
prevailed in a hard-fought contest, this time with a thrilling
12-6 overtime victory.
By virtue of their respective
first and second place finishes, Brookline and Bethel Park met once again
in the Super Bowl game at Montour Stadium. In another bone-crunching
contest, the Knights and Hawks battled for pride and glory. The outcome
of the game hung in the balance for three quarters, until a critical
Bethel turnover and a pair of quick Brookline touchdowns sealed the
Brookline's champions raise
the 2013 Super Bowl Trophy.
The championship win was
the culmination of four months of blood, sweat and toil. The Knights
put aside adversity and triumphed over every obstacle in their path. This
was their moment of glory and, for those who had stood in the
championship spotlight two years ago, the taste of victory was much
sweeter the second time around.
Coached by Brian Nicholas, the
Brookline roster featured a strong core of veterans from the 2011 squad.
The depth chart was complemented by some new players. These fresh
faces included twelve-year olds that moved up into the dual age-group
and a few transfers from the now-defunct Southside Sabre program.
Ironically, the Sabres were once Brookline's main adversary. Coach
Brian took this unique cadre of former rivals and molded them into
a very solid football team.
Brookline's offense was led by
starting quarterback Jeremy Jenkins, who took over this year after
several seasons in the backup role. Jenkins had an arsenal of potent weapons at
his disposal. His running backs included Quran Powe, Curtis Bradley and
Caldwell. Wide receiver Brent Ivory provided the deep threat and
Khalil Weathers played tight end.
Quarterback Jeremy Jenkins did a fine
job orchestrating the offense. His main weapon was running back Quran
The offensive linemen were Justice
Jones, Nathan Kendall, L.J. Orbovich, Dominick Emma, Mar Oaks and Trevor
Hazen. These trench warriors were adept at opening the holes that powered
the Knight attack forward. The offense averaged three touchdowns a game,
with twenty-three coming on the ground and six through the air.
On the other side of the line,
the Knight defense was anchored by the strong front line of Weathers,
Hazen, Justin Howell, Emma, Kendall and Oaks. The linebackers were Powe,
Caldwell, Bradley and Jones, while Jenkins, Ivory and Miller played safety.
Led by the ferocious play of Powe, the Knight defenders consistently executed
a strong, hard-hitting game plan that often left their opponents feeling
shaken and stirred. The Knight defenders also contributed four touchdowns
on takeaways, with three by Caldwell and one by Powe.
Overall, Brookline outscored
their nine opponents by the combined score of 270-96. Powe was the
Knights top producer, with eighteen touchdowns and 116 points. Caldwell
added six touchdowns and Bradley five. Ivory and Jenkins scored three
each, while Weathers ran for two and Sylvio Cercone caught one. Jenkins
passed for five scores and Miller threw for one. Powe's touchdown total
included five kick returns.
The Brookline Knights players
celebrate their Super Bowl triumph.
For Coach Brian Nicholas, the
championship victory was a fitting end to his legendary career as an
instructor and mentor with the Knights program. Brian coached for fifteen
years, from 1993 to 2007, capturing four league crowns along the way.
This year he returned to the sideline, after a five-year absence, for
a final attempt at the elusive one-for-the-thumb. His fifth title proves
that the number sixteen truly can be sweet.
Speaking of long-term achievements,
this year was significant for another Brookline Knight. Quran Powe,
playing in his final season, finished his remarkable
career with exactly 500 points. Over the past four seasons, Quran has
lit up the scoreboard seventy-eight times and added sixteen two-point
conversions. The prolific speedster is the only Brookline Knight in forty
years to reach the five hundred point mark.
Brookline's roster included six
players who have been with the Knights program since 2008. Each has
advanced through the various age groups from eight to thirteen without
missing a season. These distinguished graduates include Brent Ivory,
Jeremy Jenkins, Trevor Hazen, Branden Wysong, Joel Wert and Jacob
Graham. Three of these Knights (Ivory, Hazen and Graham) began their
playing careers as seven-year olds in 2007.
Finally, regarding the sweet
taste of victory, there were three junior players on the roster who
have been with the Knights since they were eight years old. In those
four years, from 2009 to 2012, their teams had posted a 7-25 record
and never once made the playoffs. Congratulations to Nathan Ault, L.J.
Orbovich and Seth Derrick. These three young Knights now know the meaning
of the celebatory phrase, "How Sweet It Is!"
The Players and Coaches
The Brookline Knights
2013 SSYFL Champions!
Raekwon Caldwell (7), Justice Jones (26),
Amir Bey-Davis (58), Tymugyn "Mar" Oaks (9), Anthony Carrington (28),
Seth Derrick (70), Evan Miller (10), Quran Powe (32), Joel Wert (72),
Curtis Bradley (12), Sylvio Cercone (33), Trevor Hazen (78), Logen Solomon (20),
Dominick Emma (34), Branden Wysong (80), Nathan Ault (22), Jacob Graham (40),
Nathan Kendall (84), Khalil Weathers (24), Robert Sherene (42), Justin Howell (95),
Brent Ivory (31), L.J. Orbovich (54) and Jeremy Jenkins (14). The Head Coach
is Brian Nicholas. The Assistant Coaches are Scott Hazen
and Kenny Jones.