New-Look Brookvile Ready for Rematch Against Dangerous Karns City in Class 2A Semifinal

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — At midseason, the Brookville football team was sitting at 1-4, was down two quarterbacks because of injuries, and was faced with the prospect of completely revamping its offense.

(Brayden Kunselman intercepts a pass during a game against St. Marys/photo by Molly Zimmerman.)

The Raiders set a goal: start a new season. Those first five games were in the past. Only the next one was important.

Brookville was able to rebound, going 4-1 in its “second season” to make the District 9 Class 2A playoffs.

Now a third begins on Friday at Clarion University when the Raiders take on Karns City with the winner set to play Central Clarion next week for the district title.

“When you have 14 seniors on your squad, that helps,” said Brookville coach Scott Park. “There’s a lot of guys who have been around for a while and we are fortunate that a lot of our seniors have a good football IQ. They’re smart and they were able to figure some things out.”

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It’s not an easy thing to reinvent yourself midway through the season, especially for a team like Brookville that has run a spread, pass-oriented offense so well over the years.

But when quarterbacks Charlie Krug and Easton Belfiore each went down, something had to change.

The Raiders became all about the running game.

Senior Noah Peterson also stepped into the breach at quarterback and has played exceptionally well, completing nearly 77% of his passes for 600 yards and seven touchdowns.

He’s relied on running back Jackson Zimmerman, who has 980 yards on 173 carries and 15 TDs this season.

Brookville also had dual-threat Brayden Kunselman, who has 54 receptions for 686 yards and nine touchdowns on offense and seven interceptions on defense, tied with Peterson for the team lead.

“Noah was willing to step up, even though he never played QB before,” Park said. “He’s an athlete. He’s a smart kid, and he has been working to get better each week. I think he has gotten better each week as a quarterback, and that has a lot to do with our success. Second half of the season, we’ve been able to eliminate turnovers and put Noah in some situations where he can be successful throwing the ball.

“Lots of teams would pack it in after losing two quarterbacks and these guys continue to work,” Park added. “They seem like they understood the situation. It’s definitely been a total team effort, a team mindset to get to where we are.”

Things really began falling into place for Brookville three weeks ago in a 34-7 win at Karns City.

The Raiders were able to control both lines of scrimmage in that convincing victory.

For Karns City, that loss also served a purpose. Since, the Gremlins have won back-to-back games, including an impressive non-region victory last week against Clearfield.

“We didn’t really have too much working well that night against Brookville,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “I think we actually learned what not to do instead of what to do. We watched film afterward and we just had a lot of mistakes, a lot of things we were able to correct the last couple of weeks. I think we’ve learned from our mistakes, and I really expect a lot closer game this time around.”

Karns City senior quarterback Eric Booher was injured last week against Clearfield and is questionable to play against Brookville.

If he can’t go, Mason Martin will get the start.

Martin relieved Booher against the Bison and helped lead the Gremlins to the 31-27 win.

There was a stretch this season when Karns City was so down two QBs when Booher had a broken wrist and Martin a broken finger on his throwing hand.

“We have a lot of confidence in Mason,” Sherwin said. “If something does happen to Eric, which, unfortunately, it did, we have a lot of confidence in him to step right in and continue to run our offense. It’s good because there was some times where we didn’t have either one at full capability.”

There are weapons around whoever plays QB for Karns City.

Levi Hawk, Cooper Coyle, Nathan Hess, and Nate Garing are all threats to run the ball or catch it.

Micah Rupp is a deep threat who can win in one-on-one situations because of his leaping ability.

And Martin and Booher are also both capable runners.

“It’s Karns City,” Park said. “Both teams have worked through a 10-game schedule and get a chance to play in the playoffs, and you’re faced with a win-or-go-home situation. And I’m sure neither team wants to lose. I always say, Karns City is Karns City. They’re never a pushover. We got to be ready.”

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