Anthony Thornton, a Brookhaven graduate and the school’s offensive coordinator the last five years, has replaced Tom Blake as the Bearcats’ head coach. Under Blake and previous coach Gregg Miller, Brookhaven has long been the class of the Columbus City League. Thornton wants to make sure it stays in that perch.
Columbus Brookhaven (9-2)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FL Dominique Johnson (5-8, 175, Sr.), FB Demetrius Johnson (5-11, 230, Jr.), SE DeShawn Alston (5-11, 175, Jr.), RB Andrew Harrell (5-9, 180, Sr.), DE Derrick Bryant (6-4, 235, Jr.), ATH Cameron Brown (5-10, 190, Sr.), QB Philip Johnson (6-0, 200, Jr.).
Anthony Thornton, a Brookhaven graduate and the school’s offensive coordinator the last five years, has replaced Tom Blake as the Bearcats’ head coach.
“Coach Blake and I had talked maybe the year before after we were 6-4 and had one of our worst seasons,” Thornton said. “Prior to last season, he said, ‘This is probably going to be my last year.’
“In a lot of ways, Coach Blake groomed me for this and prepared me for this. He has really helped me and been very supportive. The main thing is we wanted to make sure we kept it all in the family. Certainly, for our kids, we won’t be changing a whole lot. It is a special feeling to be the head coach at your alma mater.”
Under Blake and previous coach Gregg Miller, Brookhaven has long been the class of the Columbus City League. Thornton wants to make sure it stays in that perch.
“I don’t think there is any added pressure,” he said. “It’s just an honor and privilege to have this opportunity to try and fill those shoes. I am a competitor and now it’s my turn to see if I can do it the way they did it. They have left the program in the hands of the young guns.
“For me and the rest of our staff, it’s about going back to the basic foundations and fundamentals. The program has reached a certain status. Can we maintain that status?”
After a 9-1 regular season a year ago (the lone loss was a 14-13 defeat at the hands of defending D-I state champion Hilliard Davidson), Brookhaven dropped its Division I playoff opener at home to Groveport-Madison 41-27.
Thornton welcomes back three starters on each side of the ball. But Bryant, considered one of the state’s top junior prospects, is an intriguing transfer from nearby Gahanna Lincoln.
“He comes to us from Gahanna,” Thornton said. “He moves very well for a big kid. He’s still young. He has a tremendous work ethic. He is very quiet, but he does have a mean streak that you really wouldn’t notice. He’s not very talkative. He’s just a good kid. He has a strong desire to get out here and show what he can do.
“We have some special plans for him. He moves well for a big guy.”
Philip Johnson could be another one to watch at quarterback.
“Philip is a strong kid,” Thornton said. “He played tight end and defensive end as a freshman, but he wanted to move to quarterback as a sophomore. He has done a tremendous job in terms of his work in the weight room. We are waiting to see if he’ll be a leader like we need him to be.
“It will be a big transition for him, but I think he is the favorite to win that job right now.”
Demetrius Johnson and Dominique Johnson are brothers. Demetrius was the lead blocker for departed tailback Rodney Stewart, who had a big year in 2007.
Alston has been clocked in the 4.3-second range in the 40-yard dash at various scouting combines.
Brown is a versatile player who could line up at a number of spots.
“Cameron is a bona fide football player,” Thornton said. “You almost list him as an athlete because he can do so many things. We could almost put him anywhere. If we put him at center, he could be our center.”
The nonleague schedule includes a home game with Chillicothe and road games at Hilliard Davidson and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne before Brookhaven opens City League play at Whetstone.
“We have three of the first four games on the road,” Thornton said. “That can be hard for a young team because so much will be asked of them early on. But I think those games will help us to find out who we are and what we’re about. It will take some mental toughness to get through that stretch.”
Aug. 22 Chillicothe
Aug. 29 at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 5 at Dayton Chaminade
Sept. 12 at Columbus Whetstone
Sept. 19 Columbus Linden McKinley
Sept. 26 at Columbus Centennial
Oct. 3 Columbus Beechcroft
Oct. 10 at Columbus East
Oct. 17 Columbus Northland
Oct. 24 Columbus Mifflin