Philadelphia High School Football
A Look at
Gil Brooks' 18-Year
Coaching Career at St. Joseph's Prep
page includes stories, special lists, record breakdown, recaps of wins in
games and the names of All-Catholic/All-City honorees during Coach Brooks' 18 seasons.
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Gil Brooks, an alumnus, coached St. Joseph's Prep's football team for 18 seasons, winning 162 games and five Catholic League championships. The first crown was won in 1997, ending a 20-year wait for the school. Here is that story . . .
By Ted Silary
playful daily battle took place last week between the administrators at St.
Joseph's Prep and one persistent student.
SEASON BY SEASON
story was written in 2003 after Gil guided the Hawks to their 33rd
thus claiming the city record . . .
By Ted Silary
On the occasion when his football team claimed a prestigious city record, coach Gil Brooks revealed plans to immortalize an
Nah, Brooks was only kidding when he talked about naming St. Joseph's Prep's weight room after senior guard Mike "Bus''
Buscaglia, but he obviously holds him in high regard.
Saturday night at Northeast High, The Prep jolted Father Judge, 42-0, in a Catholic Red game to extend its winning streak to 33
games, one better than La Salle won in a stretch from 1995 to '97.
Buscaglia, a 5-10, 245-pound senior, lined up at guard and his blocking helped the Hawks' potent offense average a first down
(37 plays, 377 yards).
While Brooks' squad indeed has many players who simply ooze talent, it also has numerous guys such as Buscaglia, a
relentless, self-made contributor.
Brooks said Buscaglia - how about "The Bus Stop'' for the weight room? - can bench press 380 pounds and squat 785, and
that he never missed an offseason weightlifting workout.
"Mike's definitely our leader on the line,'' Brooks said. "He's as good as anyone we've seen this season. He's not big, but he's
incredibly strong. He sets such a tone in our weight room. ''
The blocking of center Pat Regan, guards Buscaglia and Brendon Gilroy, tackles Mike Robinson and Dave O'Brien eabled
time-sharing tailbacks Dan Jones and John Shaw to post outrageous statistics. Jones, a senior, ran eight times for 130 yards and
touchdowns of 26, 78 and 10 yards. Shaw, a sophomore, had 141 yards on just three carries. He zoomed for TDs of 70 and 68
Buscaglia had just as much fun as they did.
"I love being an offensive lineman,'' he said. "I wouldn't change things for the world. Everybody else gets the glory, but I'm in
on a battle every single play. You just keep going to war. That's why I find it to be so much fun. Maybe other people don't,
but I do. ''
The Prep opened the 2001 season with losses in three non-league games, then stormed to 10 straight wins and the Red title.
Last season was perfect at 13-0 and this season's record is 10-0. The Hawks will be off this weekend, having earned a
first-round playoff bye.
"It's good to get this record into the books, but the playoffs are a whole different ballgame,'' Buscaglia said. "This won't mean
much if we don't go on to win it all.''
He smiled. "Coach Brooks pounds that into us. He says it nonstop. I don't mind. We do have to be reminded of that. We have
to play each game as each game.
"There wasn't too much [hoopla] leading up to this game. We're pretty humble and low-key. No head cases.''
Two years ago, Buscaglia never could have imagined such excellence from the Hawks. As only a rotating lineman on the
junior varsity, he was fighting for his own survival. He flat-out outworked all of the competition, though, and became a varsity
starter last season.
"When you're a sophomore,'' Buscaglia said, "you don't really think that a 33-game winning streak might be coming up. I
knew we had some good players in our class and the class ahead of us. But something like this? No way.
"I guess when I started to think something really nice could be possible was when we beat Central Bucks West and Malvern
to begin last season. They were tough opponents. ''
Saturday's postgame scene was rather subdued. As parents and other rooters gathered 'round near the east end zone, Brooks
noted, "Only one team owns the record now. '' He then talked a little more about the overall accomplishment and the pride he
has in his players. By Prep standards, the game was actually underattended, especially from the student standpoint.
On defense, Greg Ambrogi (two), Jones and Dan DiBona had interceptions and DiBona returned his for a 32-yard TD. Mike
Boyle and Matt Leddy had fumble recoveries.
Buscaglia, who lives in Broomall, sports a 3.7 grade-point average and a 1,130 SAT score. He is thinking hard about
attending Division III Dickinson.
"That level would be perfect for Michael,'' Brooks said. "So many kids forget that the most important thing is playing.''
This story was written in 2005 after Gil steered the Prep to its fourth title in five years . . .
By Ted Silary
Charlie Noonan was hoping to emerge with special memories. He never figured they'd be two-pronged, though.
Oh, aside from being a quality defensive lineman, Noonan is definitely capable of wreaking havoc at fullback, both as a
blocker and truck-guys runner. But you need to play there to produce there and that was the rub.
We take you back to mid-September, when St. Joseph's Prep is practicing for an upcoming game with a tough opponent
from Baltimore, Gilman School.
The drill is the first-team defense against the scout-team offense, with Noonan at his usual down lineman spot. An offensive
tackle gets hit and falls against the side of Noonan's left leg. Ouch. The diagnosis is a strain of the medial collateral ligament.
The recommendation: about a month's worth of rest.
"Ryan Bradley is a good fullback," Noonan said. "You can't take anything away from him. He did a great job all season."
Now we take you to Saturday night at Northeast's Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium and the Catholic Red title game
featuring the Prep and Cardinal O'Hara. It's midway through the fourth quarter and Bradley is on the sideline, being treated
for a busted lip. Noonan, who has not carried the ball since the opener, gets waved onto the field.
Boom! He immediately rumbles 25 yards to the 3 and darn near embeds the guy who tackles him into the artificial surface.
Two plays later? Two yards for a touchdown.
We're guessing the 6-3, 250-pound senior, who's being eyed by Division I-A schools, will remember those moments much
longer than his meaty contributions on defense, as impressive as they were.
"Yeah, definitely," he said, laughing. "I've been wanting to run all year. That felt good. I never bugged anyone because,
like I said, Ryan was doing nice things for us.
"But I was a fullback in grade school [Sacred Heart, Manoa] and scored a lot of TDs. To get this one last chance was nice."
The final was Prep 41, O'Hara 7, and the chasm was wide.
The Hawks won the yardage battle, 352-26, and held O'Hara to one first down while capturing their fourth Red crown in
5 years (O'Hara won last year) and enabling coach Gil Brooks to tie the late Dick Bedesem (five at Bishop Egan from 1963
to '70) for the most crowns in CL history. Brooks also won in '97, before the Red-Blue split based on enrollment.
The Lions scored first on Joe Juisti's 6-yard run, which came six plays after Rob McLaughlin recovered a fumbled punt
at the Prep 26. The Crimson Crushing followed.
Sophomore Jamir Livingston rushed 32 times for 187 yards and four TDs, tying the city postseason record. Also,
lassmate Tim Edger broke the city mark for kicking points in a game with 11, thanks to two field goals (24, 32 yards) and
five PAT. Junior quarterback Chris Whitney added 88 yards on 10 carries.
Noonan led the defense with 11 stops. He looked like a whirlwind at the very start, dumping halfback John Dempsey for
1 yard and then QB Anthony Walters for 5. He later added two more tackles for losses.
He also extended a family tradition. Each Noonan brother has gone out with a championship. Tom, now attending Pitt,
was a starting guard in '02. Mark, now a star receiver at Wesleyan (and baseball player), was the QB in '03.
We'll have to wait roughly a decade to see if brother No. 4, Pete, can match the feat. He's only 7.
"He's one of our waterboys," Charlie said.
He added, "I had a big advantage having brothers ahead of me. I learned a lot from them."
Noonan said the Hawks were affected very little by their Thanksgiving loss to La Salle, and he reasoned in Yogi Berra
fashion, "Even if you can beat somebody nine out of 10 times, there is going to be that one time. "
Prep's defense included ends Matt Leddy and Neil Doogan, tackles Noonan and Ryan Haber, linebackers Josh Howley,
Ryan Malarick and Colin Wixted, cornerbacks Dave Clement and Ryan Malarick, and safeties Dave Mendez and Whitney.
In his postgame speech to his players, with parents/fans looking on, Brooks reminded them how last January they had
vowed not to forget the title-game loss to O'Hara, nor let it happen again.
"This is a special group," Brooks said. "With the guys from this team who are going to get them, the '03 team had 10
scholarship football players. Ten! But this team, with everybody healthy, was my best. It could have beaten anybody."
Speaking of scholarships, Noonan will visit Rutgers this weekend with further treks scheduled for Indiana, Colorado
State and Toledo. He intends to major in business or economics. He's being eyed as a defensive lineman.
"When I started playing varsity as a soph," he said, "Brian Tracz [now at Indiana] was in front of me so there wasn't
much chance of playing linebacker. They moved me to the line. It worked out well. I like it now."
Below are the players who earned first or second team Coaches' All-Catholic honors during
18 seasons as the coach at St. Joseph's Prep.
|FIRST TEAM||FIRST TEAM (cont.)||SECOND TEAM|
|L||Damian Lavelle||1992||L||Mike Buscaglia||2003||DL||Damian Lavelle||1992|
|L||Dave Johnson||1993||L||Mike Robinson||2003||DL||Chris Hamwright||1992|
|WR||Dorian Henry||1993||TE||Matt Parkhurst||2003||E/OB||Don Lepore||1992|
|RB||Lance Shaw||1993||RB||Dan Jones||2003||L||Don Lepore||1993|
|DL||Chris Hamwright||1993||DL||Matt Parkhurst||2003||QB||Jess Sodaski||1993|
|K||Scott Palanjian||1994||DL||Brandon Friday||2003||K||Scott Palanjian||1993|
|L||Fran McCartan||1995||E/OLB||Steve Quinn||2003||P||Scott Palanjian||1993|
|Rec.||Brian Kraus||1995||ILB||Brian Tracz||2003||DB||Jess Sodaski||1993|
|K||Scott Palanjian||1995||DB||Dan Jones||2003||TE||Pat Pluck||1994|
|DL||Fran McCartan||1995||DB||Greg Ambrogi||2003||DL||Pat Pluck||1994|
|LB||Victor Hobson||1995||L||Dan Voss||2004||DB||Anthony Gentlesk||1994|
|L||Frank Cacciola||1996||L||Brendan Gilroy||2004||QB||Dave Hand||1995|
|DL||Brian Blaisdell||1996||TE||Matt Leddy||2004||C||Nick Faiola||1996|
|E/OB||Sean Killeen||1996||WR||Steve Quinn||2004||L||Dan Gress||1996|
|ILB||Victor Hobson||1996||RB||John Shaw||2004||WR||Brian Kraus||1996|
|DB||Jermaine Slade||1996||DL||Charlie Noonan||2004||RB||Aaron Brown||1996|
|L||Frank Cacciola||1997||DL||Mike Boyle||2004||DL||Kevin Komelasky||1996|
|L||Chris Minetti||1997||E/OLB||Steve Quinn||2004||DB||Brian Kraus||1996|
|RB||Aaron Brown||1997||ILB||Andrew Spross||2004||C||Nick Faiola||1997|
|DL||Dan Gress||1997||DB||Chris Whitney||2004||RB||John Wagner||1997|
|DL||Kevin Komelasky||1997||DB||Dave Clement||2004||L||Neal McGinley||1998|
|E/OB||Sean Killeen||1997||C||Joe D'Orazio||2005||L||Carton Rogers||1998|
|ILB||Victor Hobson||1997||L||Jim McKenzie||2005||WR||Keith Olkowski||1998|
|DB||Jermaine Slade||1997||TE||Matt Leddy||2005||RB||Milton Johnson||1998|
|C||Jeff Minetti||1998||WR||Bill Edger||2005||DB||Kevin Stefanski||1998|
|WR||Jim Jankiewicz||1998||QB||Chris Whitney||2005||C||John Connors||1999|
|QB||Steve Comly||1998||RB||John Shaw||2005||L||Chris Short||1999|
|DL||Warren Spivey||1998||K||Tim Edger||2005||L||Carton Rogers||1999|
|E/OB||Kenny Wilson||1998||DL||Charlie Noonan||2005||WR||Ed Turner||1999|
|E/OB||Kasim Holloman||1998||ILB||Josh Howley||2005||DL||Mike Mailey||1999|
|ILB||John Paul Mantey||1998||C||Joe D'Orazio||2006||E/OLB||Sean Heenan||1999|
|DB||Jim Jankiewicz||1998||L||Jeff Battipaglia||2006||DB||David O'Beirne||1999|
|QB||Kevin Stefanski||1999||L||John Gazzola||2006||QB||Mike McGann||2000|
|ILB||John Paul Mantey||1999||WR||Brian Brinkmann||2006||DL||Tim Giangiulio||2000|
|DB||Kevin Stefanski||1999||QB||Chris Whitney||2006||DB||F.J. Wesner||2000|
|L||John Connors||2000||RB||Jamir Livingston||2006||DB||Paris Farrell||2000|
|L||Pat Spadaro||2000||K||Tim Edger||2006||C||Mike Minetti||2001|
|L||Matt Battipaglia||2000||DL||Ryan Haber||2006||L||Steve Mair||2001|
|RB||Kyle Ambrogi||2000||ILB||Neil Doogan||2006||DL||Tim Giangiulio||2001|
|K||Pat Kaiser||2000||DB||Chris Whitney||2006||ILB||Brian Tracz||2001|
|DL||Mike Mailey||2000||RB||Jamir Livingston||2007||L||John Brewster||2002|
|E/OLB||Sean Heenan||2000||FB||Mike McCarthy||2007||L||Mike Buscaglia||2002|
|ILB||Steve Wagner||2000||K||Tim Edger||2007||WR||Steve Quinn||2002|
|B||David O'Beirne||2000||P||Tim Edger||2007||RB||Brian Tracz||2002|
|L||John Connors||2001||DL||Gary Williams||2007||DL||Brandon Friday||2002|
|WR||Pete Chromiak||2001||ILB||Mike Pereira||2007||KL||Brendan Gilroy||2003|
|QB||Vince Gallagher||2001||DB||Greg Castillo||2007||RB||Brian Tracz||2003|
|RB||Kyle Ambrogi||2001||DB||Jim McGoldrick||2007||RB||John Shaw||2003|
|DL||Mike Mailey||2001||L||Mark Arcidiacono||2008||K||Greg Ambrogi||2003|
|E/OLB||Adam Hepp||2001||L||Seth Betancourt||2008||C||Scott Howley||2004|
|DB||Dan Jones||2001||RB||Mike Yeager||2008||DB||Andy Shalbrack||2004|
|L||John Quinn||2002||DL||Mike Pinciotti||2008||L||Jeff Battipaglia||2005|
|TE||Kevin Walker||2002||DL||Andy Marshalick||2008||L||James Dunn||2005|
|QB||Matt Stefanski||2002||ILB||Mike Pereira||2008||RB||Jamir Livingston||2005|
|RB||Pat Kaiser||2002||L||Seth Betancourt||2009||DL||Ryan Haber||2005|
|K||Pat Kaiser||2002||L||Sean McGinn||2009||DB||Andy Shalbrack||2005|
|DL||John Quinn||2002||RB||Desmon Peoples||2009||DB||Chris Whitney||2005|
|E/OLB||Matt Parkhurst||2002||MP||Steve O'Hara||2009||DB||Dave Clement||2005|
|ILB||Brian Tracz||2002||DL||Bill Mancini||2009||TE||Steve Schell||2006|
|DB||Dan Jones||2002||ILB||Mike Labor||2009||P||Tim Edger||2006|
|DB||Skyler Mornhinweg||2009||DL||Jeff Battipaglia||2006|
|DB||Kushmir Miller||2009||ILB||Buster Ousley||2006|
Recaps of Wins in Catholic League