High School Football: Thirty years later, Northeastern primed for Brookville rematch

SPRINGFIELD — In 1992, the undefeated Northeastern High School football team saw its storybook season end in a regional semifinal loss at Brookville.

Thirty years later, the Jets are preparing for another matchup against the Blue Devils.

Northeastern (11-0) will host Brookville in a Division V, Region 20 quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Friday night at Conover Field.

“It’s one of those things where it’s kind of crazy how full circle things have come in 30 years,” said Jets coach Jake Buchholtz. “It seems as fitting as it could be that this is the team we’re playing. It’s not in round one, but there’s a history there.”

The Jets have already accomplished several ‘firsts’ season, including:

● First outright OHC title in school history.

● First undefeated regular season since 1992.

● First playoff win in school history.

“Our message to the team has been: ‘How high do you want to set the bar? How tough do you want it to be for every class to come through the program, how hard do you want it to beat this class?,” he said. “Let’s get to where we want to be.”

Buchholtz reminded his team of the 2011 Shawnee squad, which lost to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney 21-14 in the D-III state final.

“Not a lot of people gave that team a shot at getting to the state,” Buchholtz said. “Still to this day, Shawnee has had great team after great team after great team, but that bar has been set so high for the program.”

To keep setting the bar, the Jets will first have to get past a Blue Devils (10-1) squad that hasn’t allowed more than 28 points all season. Brookville has won five straight games since falling to Valley View in Week 6, including a 41-7 first-round playoff victory over Purcell Marian last week.

Brookville is led by senior running back Tim Davis, who has rushed for 1,323 yards and 24 TDs.

“They obviously can run the ball really well,” Buchholtz said. “They’ve got a couple backs who are really good. Their offensive line fires out so low that if we don’t control our pad level this week, we could be in trouble.”

The Blue Devils primarily run the football, Buchholtz said, but can also throw the ball, if needed. They’re coached by Mike Hetrick, who previously coached at Southeastern from 1995 through 2000.

“If they get into a bind, they’ve shown that they can spread it out,” he said. “They have great athletes and their quarterback can run the ball. It’s going to present a challenge because it’s not like we can stop one phase of the game and we’ll be OK.”

The Jets senior class will be extra motivated to win their last game at Conover Field, Buchholtz said.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s nice that we’ve been able to get to a point where we can control when the last home game is. Last week it was a could be. This week, this is the last time (the seniors) will play competitively on this field. We’ve got such a big senior class that I know it’s going to be extra emotional for them.”

He’s also reminded the program to enjoy how far they’ve come this season, including playing into November for the first time in decades. More than 1,300 fans attended the game last week and he expects more this week.

“When we come down that hill (to the stadium) on Friday, take a moment to look around,” Buchholtz said. “That’s probably the coolest thing about this season — the excitement, the people who have really rallied around the football team and how the community has come together.”

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