Prolific era in Brookfield comes to an end

NORTH LIMA – It was once said that all good things come to an end, but this wasn’t a good thing – it was borderline legendary.

An era at Brookfield that rivaled some of the greatest runs in the history of the school came to a halt on Wednesday at South Range High School.

The Raiders erupted for a huge fifth inning and beat Brookfield, 15-5, in a Division III sectional final, ousting the Warriors from the tournament.

The loss marked more than a season coming to an end for Brookfield – it was the final game for some of the most successful players Brookfield has ever seen. A senior class that played for a regional title in football, earned a 20-4 record in basketball and ultimately resurrected a community played its final game. The sectional championship may have finished unceremoniously, with the Raiders (21-4) scoring on a wild pitch in the sixth inning, but it in no way depleted what the class of 2013 accomplished.

“You’ll probably never see a class like this again,” Brookfield baseball coach Bob Trudo said. “They’re great students, great athletes, good citizens and they’re just good guys. They broke me down (after the game), and I hated it. It was hard to say anything.

“It’ll be hard to replace kids like this. I’ve got good kids behind them, but they’ve just meant so much to the school, the community – everything. The impact they had on Brookfield won’t be matched for a long time.”

The Warriors weren’t happy with their 13-8 finish to the baseball season. Like most sports, they had high expectations, and they led against South Range twice, 3-0 after the first inning and 5-4 midway through the fifth. But the Raiders’ lineup pounded out 15 hits, and as coach Jim Hanek said, “the bats were just firing today.”

Losing a big game is rare for the Warriors. Their overall competitiveness was unmatched around the area, and the winning attitude spilled over to almost all sports.

Players like Jeremy and Jimmy Quinlan stood out the most – and rightfully so – in football, basketball and baseball, but there were plenty of others. Collin Harkulich (football, basketball, baseball) was a major contributor in all three sports, and he was the reason Brookfield took a 3-0 lead Wednesday as he crushed a three-run double to right-center field in the first inning. David Jamieson (football, wrestling, baseball) recorded 112 wins in wrestling – fifth in school history – and was one of the vocal leaders for the Warriors in baseball and football.

He said the hardest part of losing was saying goodbye to kids he played next to since he was 5.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Jamieson said. “We’ve been so close for the past 13 years. They’re my boys. They’re always there supporting me and I’ve always supported them.

“I remember being a little pip-squeak kid playing tee-ball with them, but ever since then we’ve had this common bond that we just hate losing.”

Jeremy Quinlan seemed to garner the most attention. He was the quarterback of the football team that went 12-1 in 2012 after finishing 1-9 in 2009. He also led the basketball team in scoring and was a standout shortstop and pitcher in baseball. He said he’ll cherish his time in all those sports, but being a Warrior meant as much as anything.

“It’s a tradition for us,” said Quinlan, who will attend Youngstown State University but is unsure of whether he’ll play a sport. “It started when we were 5. Being a Brookfield Warrior is what me and Jimmy have always been, and we always will be.”

Jimmy didn’t exactly hide in the shadows. The tight end/linebacker will be attending Geneva College on a football scholarship in the fall. He also led the basketball team as the point guard and was one of the leading hitters in baseball.

“For four years, I never had an off day,” Jimmy said. “But it’s been great. Our senior class is one of the biggest throughout sports because we’ve all stuck together through midget football and little-league baseball. We all knew we had something special growing up.

“It’s been a long journey, but we kept working and getting bigger, stronger and faster to make it special our senior year.”

They certainly didn’t disappoint.