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October 2, 2019
Brookline Knights website designed
and maintained by Clint Burton. Thanks to everyone else who helps out!
The Knights News * Seasons In Review
2014 <> 2013 <> 2012 <> 2011 <> 2010 <> 2009 <> 2008
2007 <> 2006 <> 2005 <> 2000 <> 1998
including Rosters, Photos, Game Results and more.
A New Era
The 2014 season marked the beginning of
a new chapter in the 46-year history of the Brookline Knights football program.
After the SSYFL folded following the 2013 Super Bowl victory celebration, the
Knights joined with other local organizations to form the Parkway Youth Football
Along with the transfer to a new league
came a few other changes in the Knights organization. The four Brookline Knight
football teams are formed using dual age groups (13-12, 11-10, 9-8, 7-6), a
throw-back to the days of the Midgets, Mitey-Mites, Termites and Twerps. The
11U and 9U teams are further divided into a Varsity and JV team, with each team
playing a full game. Weekends now consist of a six-game schedule.
Perhaps the most notable change that
came in 2014 was the absence of Joe and Lisa Nicholas as the leaders of the
organization. The Nicholas' retired from their leadership role following the
2013 season, after nineteen years at the helm.
The Brookline Knights spent the next
four years led by Steve Mescan and a new Board of Directors. Beginning in 2018
the program has been under the management of President Brandonn Pezzelle, the
12th person to hold this distinguished title. Coach Brandonn and his staff are
working hard to continue the tradition of pride and excellence that has become
the hallmark of Brookline football.
Tradition and Excellence
The Brookline Knights Football
program has a long-standing tradition of gridiron excellence. This legacy
dates back to their inception in 1974, a year when another Pittsburgh
football team, the Steelers, began their first reign as Super Bowl
Champions. Although the Knights may not be as well known as the men in
Black and Gold, these Brookline kids have risen to the top of the local
youth football scene time and time again over the past forty-five
The 13-Under Midget team celebrates after
a playoff win in 2000. These Knights went on to win the WPSYFL title.
The Knights entered the 2014 season
as a founding first-year member of the new Parkway Youth Football League
hoping to carry on that winning tradition. In the club's history, Brookline
Knights teams have claimed twenty-one league championships in forty-five
In eight years of SSYFL football (2006-2013),
the 2006 9-Under, 2007 10-Under, 2009 13-Under, 2010 13-Under, 2011 11-Under, 2012 10-Under, 2013 11-Under and 2013 13-Under teams combined to bring home a total of eight Super Bowl championships.
The 2006 8-Under team
added a Conference championship, finishing as Super Bowl runner-up. Brookline's 2012 9-Under team also felt the thrill of Super Bowl competition.
The Brookline Knights 1979 WPMFL Termite
champions went 9-0. They were Brookline's first undefeated team.
Prior to joining the SSYFL, from 1974
to 2005, Brookline's list of past champions included: Midgets (2000, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1990),
Mitey-Mites (1998, 1978), Termites (1996, 1990, 1979) and Twerps (2004, 2001, 1980). Along with these distinguished title holders, the Knights fielded
several teams that finished runner-up in league championship games.
The 10-year old Brookline Knights repeated as
Super Bowl champions in 2007. These Mighty Knights
returned to win the title again in 2009 and 2010, making them four-time
"Let's Go, Knights!"
In addition to the girdiron warriors,
there's also the generations of talented cheerleaders. Year after year, these
girls have kept the fans engaged with an assortment of sideline cheers, zany
antics and fabulous halftime routines. Their spirit and dedication add color
and charm to the Brookline Knights gameday festivities.
When the fall colors bloom,
the men in Black and Gold capture the hearts and minds of the Steeler
Nation. But, here in our little corner of the 'Burgh, it's the boys and girls
wearing the Black and Green of the Brookline Knights that capture the spirit
of our proud community.
Coach Joe And Lisa Nicholas
After nineteen seasons, beginning in
1995, as the President and First Lady of Brookline football, Coach Joe and
his wife Lisa retired from active participation with the Knights. Under their
steady leadership, the program has become one of the best in the City of
Pittsburgh. Following the 2013 season, Joe and Lisa passed the mantel of
President and First Lady on to Steve Mescan and his partner Tamara
This did not mean that the two most
familiar faces in Brookline football took a permanent leave of absence.
Coach Joe continued in his 22nd year on the sideline, leading the 11-Under
team to a Super Bowl berth. He also took a behind the scenes role as
Past-President. Lisa, too, worked in the shadows providing the guidance that
came from two decades of dedicated service. After that first year helping
with the transition, Joe and Lisa moved on, confident in the knowledge that
the program was in capable hands.
Coaches Joe and Joey Nicholas
led the 11-Under team to a 2014 Super Bowl berth. As a coach, Joe led
to five league championships. During his term as president, the Knights
earned sixteen team titles.
A Family Affair
The Brookline Knights would like
to acknowledge the entire Nicholas family for their many years of tireless
dedication and devotion to Brookline Knights football. This includes
Joe's brothers, Brian and Rick, and their respective families.
Also involved as both players and
cheerleaders, then club officers and coaches, were the Nicholas children,
Nicole, Jamie, Gina and Joey. Nicole continued as cheerleader coach until
the completion of the 2017 season. These kids grew up as Brookline Knights,
and as adults worked hard to carry on their proud Knights tradition. The
entire Nicholas clan will forever be recognized as the First Family of
Brookline Knights football.
Joe, Nicole, Gina, Jamie, Joey and
Lisa Nicholas in February 2014.
In honor of their two-plus decades of
service to the Brookline community, the Nicholas' were selected as local
recipients of the 2013 Jefferson Award, considered to be the Nobel Prize for
Voluteerism. It was well-deserved recognition for a family that has done
so much for the neighborhood they call home.
Many Years Of Dedicated Volunteers
The kindred spirit has always run
strong in the Knight's organization. Generous assistance from decades of
community-minded volunteers, along with a long list of talented coaches,
past and present, round out the Knight's staff. Once a Knight, always
It's this sort of dedication and
devotion to the ideals which built a solid foundation for Brookline football
that will ensure the future of the Knights program. The Brookline Knights
are one of the many things that makes the community
of Brookline a special place.
In the Beginning - The Brookline Bears
The Brookline Knights Football
Association has its roots in the Brookline Bears
Football Association, started in 1974 by John Dowling and Jim Raimondi. After the first season, the team changed it's
name from Bears to Knights.
Others who figured prominently in the
birth of the Brookline football program were Chuck Senft, Bud Cambest, Jim
McGrath, John Boris, Tony Ravoli, Sam Achille, Mike Betrose, Ted Gielas and
Don Tarr. These founding fathers helped establish the solid foundation from
which Brookline Knights football has grown over the years.
From the first Bears team in 1974
to our present-day Knights, the organization has earned a strong reputation
for turning out top quality players, ready for the rigors of High School
football. The 1996 Knights took that a few steps further, boasting
two future NFL players, Bruce Gradkowski and Ray Ventrone.
Other former players
to achieve NFL status are two-time collegiate football National Champion Don Graham of the
Knights, and Ross Ventrone of the
Linebacker Don Graham had a three-year
career (1987-1989) with Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Washington. Defensive Back Ross
Ventrone played for six years (2010-2015) with New England and Pittsburgh, and
was a member of the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. His older brother, Defensive
Back Ray Ventrone enjoyed an ten-year career (2005-2014) with New England, New
York (Jets), Cleveland and San Francisco, and was a member of the Patriots in
Super Bowl XLII. The longest tenured NFL Knight was Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski,
whose eleven-year (2006-2016) career was spent in Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Cleveland,
Oakland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
The Ventrone Brothers - Knights in the NFL
Danny McGibbeny Field
All Knights home games are
played at McGibbeny Field in Brookline Memorial Park, located along the 1400 block of Brookline Boulevard. Back in the
1970s, the Knights games were held at Moore Park, located on Pioneer Avenue.
The Knights home field is named for a
Brookline man, Danny McGibbeny, who spent several years working with the
neighborhood kids before passing, in 1977, at the age of twenty-six.
The Brookline Park complex was founded
in 1947, when the land was purchased from the Anderson family. Take a look back
through the decades to see how Brookline Park has evolved from a twenty acre farm
into the multi-purpose park in use today. Let the "Brookline Park Renaissance" be your guide.
The 1977 Brookline Knights Termite team
gathers for a photo after the final game of the season.
Youth football in Brookline
has its origins long before the Knights program was introduced.
Dating back to the 1930s, Brookline fielded a sandlot team called the
Brookline Merchants, who played in the city leagues. American Legion Post
#540 sponsored a sandlot team for many years, dating back to the 1940s.
City High Schools fielded teams as far back as the 1920s. Even local
elementary schools, like Resurrection, St. Pius and Brookline,
had varsity teams from the 1940s through the 1980s.
The Brookline Royals were the premier team in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan League
from 1967 to 1971.
Two local sandlot teams whose
heyday was the late-1960s were the "West"
Brookline Royals and the "East"
Brookline Quaills. It was an intra-neighborhood rivalry that still evokes
emotions from those who slugged and slogged it out in the mud at Moore
Park. These games were classic Brookline bone-crunching gridiron
The Bellaire Place 13-Under football
team from 1964, sponsored by "The Golden Cue" bar and grill.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Brookline
also sported teams that were organized by the kids themselves. Coaches
were recruited and sponsors helped with equipment costs and referees.
These were neighborhood teams, like the Lynnbrook Lions, Jacob Jets,
Bellaire's Golden Cue and the Milan Eagles of 1963/1964. They formed their
own league. These match-ups only lasted a year or two until the players
moved on to sandlot ball. The memories have lasted a lifetime.
Backyard brawls between neighborhood
teams and friends were commonplace in 1958, as were team practices.
pictures of youth teams from the Brookline area:
1930 - South Hills High School
1932 - The Brookline
1940 - The Brookline
1947 - American Legion Post #540
1951 - Resurrection Elementary
1952 - Resurrection Elementary
1953 - Resurrection Elementary
1954 - Resurrection Elementary
1954 - South Hills High School
1960 - Brookline Royals Sandlot
1961 - Pittsburgh Newells Sandlot
1964 - "The Golden Cue" 12-13 year
1964 - Brookline Junior
1965 - South Hills Catholic
High School Freshman Team
1968 - Brookline Quaills Sandlot Team
1966/1971 - Brookline Royals Sandlot Team
1975 - St. Pius X Elementary
1976 - South Hills High School
1978 - St. Pius X Elementary
1982 - St. Pius X Elementary
1984 - St. Pius X Elementary
The 1974/1975 St. Pius X Saints Diocesan
Varsity football team.
If anyone has information on
the Brookline Knights or other Brookline teams from
the pre-Knights era, please contact us on the Brookline Connection Guestbook or
send us a message or post on the Brookline Connection Facebook Page.
We'd be glad to include this information here on our website.