STRATFORD ---- In a back and forth, seesaw battle, Brookfield used a 2-yard touchdown run by Kory Brown with just 2:26 left to edge Stratford 24-19 Saturday at Bunnell High School. It was the season opener for both schools.
Stratford had a chance late to steal the win after Brookfield's Boeing Brown shanked a punt out of bounds, giving the Red Devils the ball at the Bobcats' 46-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. But Stratford's Michael Cannata had his pass toward the end zone intercepted by Gabe Pompette, who made a one-handed, falling-down grab to seal the deal for Brookfield.
Brookfield coach Rich Angarano was content with how his team came away with the victory.
"We're going to get better," he said. "Our quarterback Westmark (junior Brad Westmark) is going to get better, we'll be just fine."
Brown's winning touchdown run came after Stratford took the lead for a second time in the second half with a 25-yard scoring pass from Cannata to Bryan Lesperance. All three of Cannata's scoring throws came on rollouts.
"We worked on those constantly," Stratford coach John Svatik said. "The play action got their linebackers and safeties to bite and slow down and that allowed us to get over the top of their defense. We just executed a lot better in the second half. We both did, the players and I as a coach."
Svatik spoke of his team's effort in defeat with great affection.
"I learned we got kids here who have great fire and emotion," Svatik said. "In my three seasons here I've never seen a team show so much emotion and take a loss so bad. I'm proud to coach them, we're going to win some football games here."
Brookfield led 12-6 at halftime on two touchdown passes from Westmark to Nick Biasetti, who was playing for the first time in over a year after sitting out last season. Westmark was making his first varsity start at quarterback.
Angarano was pleased with Westmark's performance.
"His completion percentage (12 of 24, 173 yards, 2 TDs) was excellent," he said. "He was at about 50 percent and it could of been higher if not for a few drops."
After Cannata connected on a huge 25-yard touchdown to Chris Bracken on a fourth and 10 to give the Red Devils a 14-13 lead in the third quarter, Brookfield came right back on a long scoring drive comprised entirely of running plays by Brown and Ben Walters before Gus Warner scored on 3-yard run to regain the lead for Brookfield, 18-14.
Brookfield plays host to Bunnell on Friday night at 7. Bunnell beat Bethel 44-35 in its opener.
BROOKFIELD..................................0 12 6 7--24
STRATFORD....................................6 0 13 0--19
S----Noah Provo 31 pass Michael Cannata (pass failed)
B----Nick Biasetti 39 pass Brad Westmark (Boeing Brown kick)
B----Biasetti 32 pass Westmark (pass fail)
S----Chris Bracken 25 pass Cannata (Kyle Kodnia kick)
B----Gus Warner 3 run (run fail)
S----Bryan Lesperance 25 pass Cannata (pass fail)
B----Korey Brown 2 run (run fail)
Records: Brookfield 1-0, 1-0 SWC; Stratford 0-1, 0-1 SWC.