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Brookfield must contain strong-armed Knights QB

November 8, 2013
By JOHN VARGO - Tribune Chronicle (jvargo@tribtoday.com) , Underthelights

BROOKFIELD - Many in the area didn't think the 2013 Brookfield Warriors would end up back in the playoffs after losing a massive senior class.

Many except the Warriors themselves as they are back in the playoffs and again hosting a first-round contest.

"I think the program is going in the right direction," Brookfield coach Randy Clark said. "Anytime you make the playoffs, it's a plus. Three years in a row when we haven't made it for the past 30 before that is a big thing. It's a lot of excitement for the community, kids and the school."

Brookfield, which claimed the No. 4 seed in Division VI, Region 19, is set to host the fifth-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas Knights tonight at 7:30 p.m.

For the Knights, quarterback Anthony Moeglin is listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, but the junior signal caller has statistics that make him seem gigantic. He's passed for 2,177 yards with 111 completions and 181 attempts, padded with 20 touchdowns and three interceptions.

"We're a multiple formation pro-style offense," St. Thomas coach Tim Budd said. "We're in a shotgun some. We're under center some. We like to try to be balanced. When you're Division VI, you've got to look at the talent you have and use it the best way possible, which has included us throwing the ball more than we did last year when we had four really talented running backs."

The film on Moeglin has impressed Brookfield coach Randy Clark, whose fourth-seeded team was practicing at Arrowhead Stadium in Girard on Tuesday.

"He's a very good athlete; and he's got some nice skill out there," said Clark, whose team is 8-2. "He can throw the ball, too. He's very versatile. He's a tough kid. Their receivers seem like they're pretty scatty."

St. Thomas' top two receivers - junior Evan Vernier (5-7, 145) and senior Sam Pusateri (5-9, 160) - have combined for more than 1,400 yards and 55 receptions.

"We have to do a better job of locking down on the outside on their No. 1 and 2 receivers - do a better job when the ball's in the air and go after it," Clark said.

Budd said he's impressed with Brookfield's defense, which is led by 6-foot, 210-pound senior linebacker Tom Wike, who has 92 tackles. Nate Morrison has 71 tackles and five for loss, while Jamar Tarver has 70 tackles and a team-high 14 for loss and 10 sacks.

"They have a good defense because they're very agressive," Budd said. "I notice they run to the ball well. First of all, they've given four different fronts on films and they blitz a lot more. We haven't seen a lot of blitz, to be honest with you. With our quarterback playing as well as he has, we saw the blitz and we had great success against it because our quarterback play has been so strong. The last couple of weeks, teams haven't given us much blitz. Then, I watched them agressively blitz quite often."

Brookfield has a knack for running the ball, led by senior Joe Clark's 857 yards on 197 carries and 14 touchdowns, along with Morrison's 554 yards on 69 carries and four touchdowns.

Add to that, Warrior sophomore Augustus Necastro has passed for 1,258 yards on 89 of 164 with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Brookfield's top receiver is R.J. Leon, who has 393 yards on 26 catches and two scores.

Clark said his Warriors must set the tempo against a team that has amassed 330 points.

"We need ball control," he said. "We need to take care of the ball, first of all - win the turnover battle and have great special teams. A lot of people probably don't look at special teams. There's nothing wrong with field position and maintaining the clock."

The past few seasons, Brookfield has maintained its presense in the playoffs - a team that made the Division IV, Region 13 title game last season. For some, it may seem to be exciting that Brookfield dropped from Division IV to Division VI, but it's no easy task.

"I believe Division VI is as tough a region we were in last year in Division IV with Kirtland, Mogadore and South Range," Clark said. "There's three good schools there and I don't know how many state championships the other two got. It's a tough region. Whoever comes out of this region is going to make some noise."