Brookline Recreation Center
1999 CitiParks Flag Football Champions

Brookline's champions and fans after the big win.
Brookline's champions and fans gather for a group photo after
their 26-20 win over Arlington Heights at "The Fort."
Coach John Ladasky's Brookline team: Lewis Alkire, Justin Phillips,
Steve Barone, Brendan McCalla, Josh Gettings, Bruno DeSimone and Jason Lancia.

* Brookline Claims 1999 CitiParks Flag Football Title *

NOVEMBER 20 - Brookline coach John Ladasky took his 15-17 year olds to Arlington's "Fort" on Saturday for the 1999 CitiParks flag football title game. His legion stormed the bastions and took home the booty, in the form of a championship trophy.

"Ladasky's Legion", led by Bruno DeSimone's three touchdown receptions, won a hard fought 26-20 victory against Arlington Heights, overcoming their opponents home field advantage and a mighty comeback attempt in the final minutes that left Brookline's fans gasping for air.

The Legion, sponsored by the Brookline Memorial Recreation Center, earned their spot in the post-season finale with a convincing 50-20 victory over Warrington Recreation Center on Wednesday, November 17.

The semi-final game was played in frigid weather, but Brookline was red hot. Justin Phillips set the tempo with a touchdown reception on the opening drive from reserve quarterback DeSimone, then took the helm and threw seven more TD passes. Normally positioned in the QB slot, Phillips connected three times with Jason Lancia and once apiece with Brendan McCalla, DeSimone, Steve Barone and Lewis Alkire. Phillips also connected for a conversion with Lancia, and caught one himself from DeSimone.

The Brookline offense.
Brookline's potent offense was led by quarterback Justin Phillips.

After building a 31-20 halftime lead, Brookline never looked back, adding 19 more insurance points to round off their scoring barage. Other Brookline highlights were six sacks recorded by the swift-footed Barone, and key interceptions by Phillips and Josh Geddings.

Saturday's finale was no repeat of the semi's, as Arlington came ready to play. The scoring began on Brookline's third possession. After an interception by Phillips, he threw an endzone pass which deflected off McCalla right into the open arms of DeSimone. Brendan caught the conversion toss to make the score 7-0.

Arlington answered immediately with a touchdown on their next possession, but missed the conversion attempt, leaving Brookline with a 7-6 edge.

Brookline went up 13-6 when, after another interception by Phillips and a fine running catch by Barone, Justin hooked up with Bruno for a second scoring pass. The conversion attempt failed.

The first half ended with the third Phillips-DeSimone combination, then a positive conversion involving the same tandem, leaving coach Ladasky and his Legion holding a 20-6 lead.

Arlington buckled down in the second half. Starting with a long bomb, followed by some stiff defense, then another long touchdown and two flawless conversions, they tied the score at 20-20 with only a few minutes remaining. A timely interception by Lancia and two sacks by Barone mid-way through the period kept Arlington from taking the lead outright.

After watching their point spread evaporate, Brookline caught fire. DeSimone took in a long toss and was downed in the redzone. Phillips then hooked up with McCalla for the winning score. Another failed conversion left the score at 26-20.

Fighting against both the clock and an emotionally charged Brookline crew, Arlington made one final flurry. After a fine catch and run by Barone took the ball deep into their territory, a dramatic goal line stand gave them the ball with precious seconds left.

One Arlington completion and two very accurate "Hail Mary" passes were enough to give the entire Brookline contingent the chills. Only great defensive plays by DeSimone and then Phillips kept the balls out of the receiver's grasps.

It was a moment meant for cardiac medication, but also the beginning of a sweet celebration for the Brookline squad, who had fought off injuries and a lethargic regular season to complete their title quest.

Steve Barone.
Steve Barone after his long run helps seal Arlington's fate late in the game.

Second-year coach Ladasky heaped praise on his entire team. "We had a couple kids quit early in the season and it screwed up our chemistry. But with Justin (Phillips) leading the offense and (Steve) Barone leading the defense, those who stayed on worked hard and began to gel. Once we started playing like a team, I knew Brookline was a force to be reckoned with. They all deserved this."

It was a hard fought battle, not just in the final game, but all season long. Then, in the end, "Ladasky's Legion" stormed "The Fort" and earned their prize, a first place trophy and claim to the 1999 CitiParks Flag Football title.

The Brookline offense.
Brookline's champions shake hands with Arlington's runners-up.

* Written by Clint Burton - November 21, 1999 *

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