Stingy 'D' won't let Panthers prowl
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/01/05
Facing fourth-and-inches near midfield just after halftime,
Brookwood coach Mark Crews decided to punt and trust his defense
with a 14-0 lead.
And why not?
The defense, as it did most of the night, rewarded Crews' faith.
Blitzing linebackers Joe Moore and Rennie Curran sandwiched Parkview
quarterback Patrick Witt three plays later, forcing a fumble that
Curran picked up and ran to the Panthers 13.
Soon it was 21-0 Brookwood.
The Broncos, who frustrated Panthers running back Caleb King all
night, were on their way to a surprisingly easy 35-14 win.
"I think we played as well on defense as we've played maybe
in a year or two," Crews said. "[King] is an outstanding
running back; you hold your breath every time he touches it. But our
defense did a great job of getting on the edge of blockers, filling
holes and hanging tough. When you don't give him places to run, it's
hard to gain a lot of yards."
King, who declined comment afterward, finished with 103 yards on
25 carries, but most came in the fourth quarter after the outcome
was long decided.
Brookwood's defense set the tone on the opening series.
On 3rd-and-2 from the Parkview 36, King took a handoff and looked
up to see Curran and a few other Broncos already in the backfield.
The play turned into a 10-yard loss – an omen for the night.
"That got me so excited, I was ready to explode," said
Curran, whose name was called so often it was a shock when he wasn't
mentioned on a tackle.
"I had been watching film on [King] so much, I couldn't wait
to get after him. He's real talented, I give him all the credit, but
we just came hard after him."
Occasionally, the two exchanged words after plays.
"You're not getting by me at all," Curran remembers
telling King. "It's over."
best run, a 25-yarder, moved the Panthers to midfield late in the
first half. But defensive tackle Justin Neisler thwarted the drive,
bursting up the middle to sack Witt for a 10-yard loss.
Brookwood held Parkview to 50 yards and just two first downs
before the break.
Witt, who was sacked four times, completed 4-of-9 passes for 90
yards and a touchdown.
Curran got plenty of help from his teammates. Defensive end Kevin
Reddy had a sack, and fellow linemen Brian Yost and Jeff Button and
linebacker David Kelley clogged running lanes. Patrick Moran, Matt
Covington and Jordan Honegan all broke up pass plays.
Just a junior, Curran said he had a gut feeling Brookwood would
come out and dominate.
"Our team is really together this year," he said.
"We're a bunch of brothers, not just players.
"It all came together."
Broncos have all it takes for title
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
For two-plus years now, the South has ruled in the state’s
highest high school football classification. Camden County first in
2003, then Lowndes last year, with Camden again looking
championship-strong this season as Georgia’s highest-ranked team.
Which begs a question: What’s up with metro Atlanta football in
The answer is two words: Brookwood and Parkview. That’s
actually three words, but you get the point. The most-hyped and
overhyped programs in the state are the best in this area, too, so
the burden of Atlanta claiming statewide supremacy rests with them.
They got busy Friday night at Parkview in another of those
spectacles that make you forget, at least for a moment, that it is
high school football. On this beautiful fall night, it was more than
about beating your rival. It was ultimately about sending a message
to the rest of Georgia about who will reign supreme in the end.
And Brookwood sent a most resounding missive. It dominated its
neighbor in a way that was almost fascinating. And in the Big Orange
Pick a facet of the game and the Broncos ruled it. They are as
complete a team as there is.
Camden County has a unit that amounts to a wrecking crew. It
hasn’t been challenged this year. Mark Crews, Brookwood’s coach,
caught a glimpse of Camden as it demolished Walton in the season
opener at the Georgia Dome.
“It was only a quarter that I got to see, but it was enough to
see that they looked just as they did a couple years ago,” Crews
Translation: fast, tough, good.
Lowndes and Valdosta also are programs south of the city that
have championship vitality. But Brookwood is better than both,
perhaps better than all.
It showed Friday. They were the more confident team. The Broncos
faked a reverse punt return, executed the ol’ hook-and-ladder and
threw a lateral — all in the first quarter. Quarterback David
Pittman, the real deal, made three third-down conversions on
Brookwood’s first drive, the last a 6-yard run for the game’s
Meanwhile, Parkview struggled. The Panthers had the ball all of
two possessions in the opening period and did not muster a first
down. In the second quarter, they had consecutive
illegal-substitution penalties — the second after a timeout —
and a delay-of-game infraction on a punt.
Not good. And the second half was only a bit better.
Crews might not want to hear it, but this is Brookwood’s year
to reach the summit. He and his stellar coaching staff have 39
seniors, a running back — Cameron Smith — who is as tough as he
is fast, a poised leader in Pittman who is a double threat as a
runner and passer, and a defense that deserves far more credit than
It all adds up to a championship team. The shellacking of
Parkview was significant for this reason, too: confidence. There is
no better barometer for Brookwood than the Panthers, and Parkview
This is not meant to dismiss the Panthers. Clearly flaws exist,
but it is a school of championship tradition and will not go
passively into the playoffs.
Neither will Brookwood, Atlanta’s best chance to bring
supremacy back to the north. The bet here is that the Broncos will
do just that.
No. 2 Broncos pound
rival Panthers 35-14
By Will Hammock
Assistant Sports Editor
LILBURN — The battle of the running backs never really
materialized on Friday.
Then again the Battle of Five Forks-Trickum wasn’t much of a
battle at all.
Second-ranked Brookwood scored 21 third-quarter points to turn its
game with rival and No. 5 Parkview into a comfortable victory,
handing the host Panthers a 35-14 defeat. The Broncos, a year after
being shut out in a 10-0 loss to Parkview, built a 35-7 lead that
held until a late fourth-quarter touchdown.
The scoring outburst is a rarity against Parkview as only three
teams — Brookwood in a 35-21 win in Lilburn in 2003 and
Clarke Central in a 30-13 win in 1996 — have scored more 30 on the
Panthers in the past 10 seasons. The loss also gives Parkview its
first two-loss regular season since 1998.
The Broncos were motivated from the start, with the goal of giving
senior lineman Greg Mercier, whose older brother died in a Thursday
night car accident, a victory. They also wanted to start a new run
of success against the Panthers, who had won six of the past seven
meetings in the series.
“I just told (our players) I was so tired of (Parkview) talking
about their four state championships to our one, and all about the
past and stuff,” said Brookwood linebacker Rennie Curran, who had
three tackles for losses, a sack and a fumble recovery. “I was
like, ‘We’re in this now. We’ve got to win this now. We’ve
got to do it big.’”
Did they ever.
Neither star running back broke out for a big game — Brookwood’s
Cameron Smith had 27 carries for 104 yards and Parkview’s Caleb
King carried 25 times for 107 yards — but the Broncos (6-0
overall and 3-0 in Region 8-AAAAA) moved the ball better than the
Panthers (4-2, 2-1). The visitors built a 14-0 halftime lead and
opened up a wide margin on two big TDs, a 72-yard pass from David
Pittman to P.J. Katz and a 59-yard punt return by Patrick Moran.
“I’m just proud of the way we played, offensively, defensively
and in the kicking game,” Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said.
“You work hard to try to play well in all phases and I think we
did. Our offensive linemen kind of took control there in the second
quarter and drove it down their throats a little bit. And we played
great defense, great defense.”
The defense held King without a big play, limiting most of his
success to late in the game. Already down 35-7, the Parkview junior
had 49 rushing yards on 14 carries on his team’s
last scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers had only 50 yards at halftime and finished with 162
yards, including just 73 rushing yards. Quarterback Patrick Witt was
sacked four times behind a patchwork offensive line that was without
guard J.C. Brignone (broken hand) for the first half. He dressed out
and played in the second half, but his effectiveness was limited.
“We just came out prepared,” Brookwood defensive end Kevin Reddy
said. “We came out calling out their formations. We knew what play
was coming. We just took it to them tonight. It felt great. We were
hitting hard finally.”
Pittman, who completed 5 of 6 passes for 105 yards, set the tone on
Brookwood’s opening drive when he carried four times for 37 yards.
He completed a big third-down pass to Matt Covington, who made a
nice spinning catch, and then made two big runs on third downs, the
latter an 8-yard TD run on third-and-goal.
The 7-0 lead held until a 12-play, 71-yard drive in the second
quarter was capped by Pittman’s second TD, a 1-yard plunge with
2:44 left before halftime. King, who had just 12 yards on his first
eight carries, broke off his longest run of the night, a 25-yarder,
on the next drive but a sack by the Broncos’ Justin Neisler ended
any hopes of points by the Panthers.
Brookwood’s defense created a TD early in the third quarter when
blitzing linebacker Joe Moore led a group of tacklers that sacked
Witt, forcing a fumble. Curran scooped the loose ball up at the
Parkview 13-yard line. Five plays later, Smith’s 1-yard TD run
gave the visitors a 21-0 edge.
Smith didn’t have his best statistical game, but the Meadowcreek
transfer did get his first win over Parkview.
“It was exciting, it was exciting,” Smith said. “It’s nice
to finally be on the other side and not losing to Parkview.”
Brookwood’s lone defensive miscue was on the ensuing possession
when Witt found a wide-open Steve Esmonde for a 61-yard pass play.
That set up Witt’s 2-yard run to get within 21-7 with 2:54 left in
the third quarter.
On the second play of the Broncos’ next possession, Pittman found
Katz for the 74-yarder that broke the hosts’ brief momentum. A
sack by Reddy forced a three-and-out and Moran made a huge play,
taking a punt back 59 yards for a 35-7 lead.
“(Brookwood) just outplayed us,” Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe
said. “No question about it, they outplayed us. They’ve got a
great team. They’ve got the best team they’ve ever had.
They’ve got more speed. They’ve had good teams but now they’ve
A 16-play, 64-yard drive in the fourth quarter, capped by Witt’s
4-yard TD pass to Michael Palmer, got the Panthers within 35-14. But
Brookwood’s third-quarter explosion made sure the outcome was
never in doubt in the closing minutes.
It gave the Bronco fans plenty of time to celebrate in the stands
before charging the field.
“This is very sweet, very sweet,” Pittman said. “To come over
here on their turf too was sweet. It’s the second straight time we
beat them on their grounds. I’m happy right now.”
Please keep the Mercier family in your prayers.
Brookwood TD Club president dies in wreck
Amidst all the hoopla of Friday night’s win over
rival Parkview, there was plenty of sadness for Brookwood’s
football program. The son of Touchdown Club president Michael
Mercier, a former Bronco offensive lineman, died in a car accident
Mikey Mercier, who played on Brookwood’s 1996 state title team,
died when a vehicle he was driving hydroplaned and crashed into a
tree near Macon as he was driving toward Atlanta.
Despite the tragedy, Mikey’s younger brother Greg, who wears No.
67 just like his brother did, opted to play in the game and his
parents — Michael and Betsy — were also in attendance on the
sideline. When Brookwood walked out for pre-game drills, Greg left
his line to hug his mother and father.
There was a moment of silence to honor Mikey before the game.
“He was a very team oriented kid,” said Brookwood athletic
director Dave Hunter, who coached Mikey. “You can’t find better
people in the community (than his parents). They just wanted to be
Said quarterback David Pittman: “It’s a great victory for our
community. We went out there and won the game for (Mikey)
— Todd Cline and Will Hammock
Broncos’ QB skins Panthers with arm, legs and threats
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Like I said, it’s the quarterback, stupid.
Long before this edition of the Brookwood-Parkview rivalry
morphed — somewhat unfairly — into Cameron vs. Caleb, an
insightful soul told you the Broncos’ advantage at quarterback
would determine the outcome.
Ahem! David Pittman rules.
With, of course, plenty of help from his friends.
Cameron Smith, playing on the biggest stage of his life, did not
shy away from the bright lights. The transfer from Meadowcreek
officially established himself as a Bronco for life, busting up the
On defense, Brookwood linebacker extraordinaire Rennie Curran
confirmed what many had begun to whisper: The junior may be the best
player in Georgia. Special teams also thrilled, with Patrick Moran
returning a punt for a score.
Yes, but … David Pittman rules.
The senior playmaker rushed for a pair of TDs Friday and dropped
a long bomb to P.J. Katz for a third, and Brookwood stunned Parkview
Swift afoot and strong-armed, Pittman has made the most of his
wait to take hold of the Broncos’ reins. His numbers may not
overwhelm — except the primary ones: victories (now 6-0) and TDs
(13 total — six passing, seven rushing).
However, Pittman’s threats are as disruptive as his acts.
Respecting Pittman’s speed, Parkview (4-2) couldn’t
over-commit on Smith. Respecting Pittman’s arm, the Panthers
couldn’t jam the box, either. Blitz? Much too elusive. The result
was an old-fashioned “go get me a switch” whipping, making
Brookwood fans’ two-year itch to see Pittman at QB worth the
Even Brookwood coach Mark Crews had to scratch the urge.
“In hindsight, there [were] a couple times during the course of
[last] season we might should have tried David at quarterback,”
Crews says. “But that is a difficult trigger to pull sometimes.”
Times where starter Bradley Saylors wins 18 of 22 games. But
consecutive first-round playoff KOs washed away a lot of the good.
“We were winning, although the offense struggled a little
bit,” Crews said. “But if you yank a tackle out and put another
one in because this one isn’t blocking well, nobody notices.
“When you yank your quarterback out, you sort of shoot him in
the foot in terms of his confidence, and the team’s confidence in
him and all those kind of things… . And then, I think David knew
his time was coming.”
Which tells you much about Pittman’s stock. In an age where
kids — and their parents — school-shop in search of playing
time, the Pittmans stayed put.
Now, short of contending for a state title — and more chances
to show off David’s arm — nothing will squash this coming-out
Nothing, it seems, at all.
Certainly not Parkview, which calls for one more pat on the back.
After an upset loss to Norcross, a certain someone in Big Orange
Jungle Land — someone of quite high standing — took strong
offense to the notion, asserted by an insightful soul, that the
Panthers have slipped.
Well, I stand pat on that.