Before They Played for Pay . . . Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley
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This story concerns San Diego Chargers
running back Curtis "Boonah"
Brinkley, who played for Roxborough and West Catholic and graduated
in 2004 as the leading rusher in city history. He still holds the mark.
Below is a story about the game in which Brinkley broke TWO marks.
Brinkley's incredible feats
Burrs back sets 2 records, scores 5 TDs
Oct 27, 2003
By TED SILARY
THERE WAS a 2-for-1 deal at The Football Record Store and, hey, who doesn't love a bargain?
Thanks to Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley , a 5-10, 190-pound senior at West Catholic High, two of Philadelphia's high school rushing icons have been forced to relinquish cherished standards.
With everyone he holds near and dear looking on Saturday at Frankford's stadium, and with many of those supporters wearing replicas of his No. 1 jersey, Brinkley first toppled Eddie Gaskins (also in attendance) and then took care of Lawrence Reid (now living in California).
Brinkley sped, juked, spun and even bulled for 399 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries as West rolled to a 41-13 Catholic Blue victory over North Catholic.
"It's funny," Brinkley said. "I was sitting in my tub [Friday] night and I had stars in my eyes. "
He meant that literally, meaning the nervous anticipation had gotten to him and was making him feel kind of faint. "But I can see clearly now," he added, smiling.
He meant that figuratively. As in past Gaskins. And past Reid.
Gaskins, a 1998 Frankford grad and the Daily News' choice for Public League Player of the 1990s, finished his career with 6,122 yards. Reid, a 1976 Cardinal Dougherty grad and our choice for Catholic League Player of the 1970s, in 1975 ran for a city-league's record 379 yards (and five TDs; 39 carries) in a 41-41 tie vs. Bishop Egan.
In the last week, Gaskins, as gracious as one could imagine, met with Brinkley at a West practice and spoke with him several times, in a mentoring capacity, via cell phone. They will continue to speak, each said.
Gaskins and his mother, Kathy, who was wearing Eddie's high school jacket, arrived at Frankford early in the second quarter. Brinkley already had two TDs and 122 yards.
West 's next series produced 33 more yards and another TD for Brinkley . It also caused Gaskins to appear on the Burrs' sideline.
When Tom Fontaine's end-zone interception returned the ball to West 29 seconds before intermission, Brinkley needed 16 yards to reach 6,123 and ease past Gaskins' city-league's mark of 6,122. He ran for 6 yards, then for 9 to tie the mark.
Coach Brian Fluck, wanting to have the deed done as early as possible, called time at 0:05 and ordered an off-tackle run to the right. Brinkley , who knew what was going on, signaled to the crowd to make noise.
Brinkley first headed in the assigned direction and then, as he's wont to do, cut back against the grain a shade downfield. He was tackled 19 yards later by North, and then nearly tackled again by teammates and assorted well-wishers.
Balloons were released. Banners were flashed; part of one of them read "6,123 and counting. " Brinkley 's father, Curtis Sr., burst into tears as he hugged his son. Gaskins and Brinkley also embraced. The ball wound up with Brinkley 's grandmother, Marge Cason, who's as vocally supportive as they come.
She also can be frisky. After her grandson was limited to 1 yard on his first carry of the day, she yelled, "Can we have some blocking out there? "
A short time earlier, as the Falcons' players and coaches ran toward their bench, a fan, obviously aware of the record assault about to come, hollered to coach Tim Quinn, "Not today! Right, coach?! "
There was no stopping Brinkley , whose TD runs covered 32, 40, 17, 80 and 7 yards. On the 40-yarder, he began up the middle and then did multiple, bounce-off-people pirouettes to his left.
"SportsCenter" needs to get the videotape. Coaches at prominent Division I programs have previous tapes. Brinkley has been offered several scholarships and is trying to become academically qualified.
West 's line included center Thomas Davis, guards Frank Pirotta and Fran Enright, tackles Robert Grant and Matt DeMarco and ends Derrell Hand (tight) and John Maddox (split). The others on offense were quarterback Will Burke (he accounted for the sixth TD with a 36-yard pass to Evan Polk), fullback David Fitzgerald and slotback Polk.
The 270-pound Fitzgerald, as the lead blocker out of the I, was a one-man wrecking crew in his second start at the position.
"Coach was saying all year we needed somebody to step up at fullback," Fitzgerald said. "All I needed to do was make my blocks; me and the O-line. Curt's a phenomenal back. He does the rest. Curt's a humble guy. All he does is ask us to block for him. And then he gives us the credit. "
After Brinkley raced 80 yards for a score with 7:50 left in the third quarter, raising his yardage total to 272, Fluck decided to let him take a shot at Reid's mark.
"Might as well get it," he said. "Might as well get two records done. [Quinn] was OK with it. In the same situation, he said, he would have gone for it, too. "
Quinn indeed understood: "We don't need anyone taking pity on us. Our kids have to learn. You play for four quarters. "
Brinkley 's total stood at 319 when West took over on its 20 with 7:20 left. Brinkley ran on every play of the drive, collecting 13, 15, 11, 6, 7, 4, 8, 9 and 7 yards for a TD at 2:21. The game record came on the 8-yarder, a run to his right.
As the last drive ended, Gaskins quipped, "Now that's how you feed a guy the ball. "
Asked for his overall impressions of Brinkley , Gaskins said, "Everything I saw impressed me. I haven't seen anybody run like that since Paul Northern [2,154 yards for Bartram in '97]. He's got moves. Crazy moves. I wish him all the best, on and off the field. I wish the world for him. "
Nearby, Brinkley 's family and friends from the Abbottsford Homes, in East Falls, were gathered on various parts of the field. Many were recording the scene with cameras, still and video.
"This is hitting me," Brinkley said.
"This was history. When you do that, your people are supposed to enjoy it.
"I'm really tired. This was work. But my linemen were so amped, they got me going. They felt it. That feeling came back to me." *