Break out the Coke bottles. The Brookline High School (my alma mater) Warriors faced off against the Newton North (rival) Tigers Thanksgiving morning. It was a typical high school football game in that it was mostly defined by the run, especially via the quarterback keeper. Atypical was the sheer number of penalties called, especially against the Tigers. Without a doubt this helped the Warriors, who won for the first time this season, 18-6.
Offensively, the star of the game was definitely Irvin Scott, one of the Brookline quarterbacks. As the primary running quarterback for the Warriors, he started off a little slowly. However, as the game wore on and the Tigers defense began to tire, he got stronger and stronger. By the fourth quarter he was breaking off double-digit runs with relative ease. He also played defensive back on the other end of the field, where he made a number of strong plays.
When the Warriors wanted to pass, they tended to use Arthur Azatyants more than Irvin Scott. He also had a relatively good game, throwing for a touchdown pass and generally managing the game in the early goings. Once Brookline built a lead, they used him a little less frequently than they did early on.
All in all, Brookline did a pretty good job of managing the clock late in the game. They strung together a couple of good, long offensive drives, that took time off the clock. Later on, they used Scott and his running ability to grind down the Tigers defense and continue to run the clock down. Late in the fourth, they forced Newton North to burn all of their timeouts in one drive. Down two possessions, this left them with little time to run their offense and score.
Defensively, Brookline could best be described as bending but not breaking. They had plenty of trouble with Tigers running back Troy Peterson, although he left the game in the third with an injury and was not the same player upon the return. While the Warriors did not get a ton of pressure on Newton North’s quarterback, their secondary did a decent job of coverage downfield. They allowed only one long throw, but that came during a drive in which the Tigers needed over 30 yards for a first down. They did not get them, and turned the ball over on downs.
Newton North went the entire game without punting, and yet Brookline did an excellent job of stuffing the Tigers on fourth down conversions. They allowed just one conversion, getting caught off sides deep in their own territory. However, they buckled down and once again did not allow Newton North to get into the end zone. After allowing a touchdown early in the first quarter, Brookline did a terrific job of keeping the Tigers out of the end zone, holding them scoreless for the final three quarters.
A final factor in Brookline’s victory was its special teams. While neither team featured a strong place kicker, Brookline was better at pinning Newton North deeper in its own territory on kickoffs. They mainly used squib kicks, but Brookline pushed them deeper into enemy territory than Newton could on its two kickoffs. Brookline also did a good job of executing punts, nailing three of four, to force Newton to start many of its drives at their 35 yard line or deeper. In a game where time is against you, as it was for most of Newton North’s game, bad field position can really work against you. It’s hard to move the ball quickly in high school ball, and Newton consistently had to cover more ground than the Warriors did.
Overall, I immensely enjoyed watching Brookline win its first game this season. The crowd got into it, the players were far more fired up than Newton North’s were, and the Tigers looked rattled all game, incurring multiple penalties. Unsportsmanlike conduct and illegal substitution were the most common, which are always signs of mental fatigue and frustration. It was a great way to start the holiday.
That’s all for now. To all my readers: Happy Thanksgiving!