As the head coaches for the Brookhaven and Worthington Kilbourne high school football teams reflected back on the 2008 regular season, pride was an underlying theme.

As the head coaches for the Brookhaven and Worthington Kilbourne high school football teams reflected back on the 2008 regular season, pride was an underlying theme.

For Brookhaven's Anthony Thornton, he was proud his team "bought into what we've been selling" regarding its ability to reestablish an identity centered around defense and physical and intense play.

For Kilbourne's Vince Trombetti, he was proud of his team's unselfishness.

"We didn't have any issues like someone being upset they're not getting the ball more," Trombetti said. "The kids are playing for each other and that's very satisfying."

Brookhaven plays host to Kilbourne at 7 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.

Kilbourne's last playoff appearance was 2005 when the Wolves reached a regional final before losing to Hilliard Davidson 21-14. Brookhaven qualified for the playoffs last season, but lost the opener to Groveport 41-27.

That was the final game for Brookhaven coach Tom Blake, who retired after five seasons with the Bearcats. Not only was Thornton Brookhaven's new coach, but the Bearcats started the season with new players in all but three positions on offense and three on defense.

"The kids have bought into our style of play and they've done it with not a lot of questions asked right from day one," Thornton said. "We have a young and inexperienced group but they really want a shot at it."

Brookhaven's defense has allowed the Bearcats a "shot at it" as they've posted shutouts in four of their last five games. Brookhaven plays a 4-3 defense led by linebackers Galvin Bonner (5-8, 200), Anthony Johnson (6-0, 185) and Demetrus Johnson (5-11, 225) and defensive back Ryland Ward. Yet it was Brookhaven's defensive line, which averages 221 pounds, that has impressed Trombetti.

"They really come off the ball and get up the field," said Trombetti of the Bearcats defensive line of Derrick Bryant, D.J. Greggs, Karlonte Hagens and Chris Thigpen. "We're going to have to pull and trap and try misdirection a little bit. We have to be patient. The big thing is to continue to pop out three to four yards a play and keep the ball out of their hands."

Kilbourne's offense is similar to Davidson as both teams run the triple-option. Unlike Davidson, Kilbourne has shown its ability to throw the ball with quarterback Aaron Kingcade. In a 30-20 win over Dublin Coffman Oct. 17, Kingcade had touchdown passes of 78 and 59 yards, both to Alan Tobey.

Kilbourne's running game is led by Kingcade. Last Friday, he rushed for three touchdowns in a 43-3 win over Thomas Worthington. For the season, the Wolves' three-year starter at quarterback has 561 yards rushing on 121 carries and 12 touchdowns.

"We want to stop their running game," Thornton said. "We've got to start with that first. From that standpoint, we can force them to be one-dimensional and that will play into our favor. We've got to stop the run first."

Brookhaven's offense is also predicated on the run, led by quarterback Cameron Brown and running back Andrew Herrell.

"It starts with their quarterback," Trombetti said. "One thing that's surprised me about Brookhaven is how much they're throwing the ball. He can get back and unload the ball down the field. When they are handing off, their running back goes east-west then sees a hole and takes it north-south. They have a lot of speed."

Kilbourne employs a 6-1 defensive front with Cincinnati verbal commitment Dan Sprague (6-3, 255) at linebacker and Josh Buda (5-11, 222) and Luke Bott (6-0, 183) leading the defensive line.

"I can't wait for (Saturday)," Buda said. "This is what I've worked for for the last four years and I'm excited."

Buda and his fellow defensive players will have to prepare to not only face an offense that has speed, but can play power football, too.

"(Opposing) defenses have a lot to prepare for and we take real pleasure in that," Thornton said. "Our quarterback is our trigger man and we've been able to run the ball very well. We proved that (last Friday) when our second-string running back (Antwonne White) had 118 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries."

In that 38-0 win over Mifflin last Friday, Brown threw two touchdown passes and Hassan Coleman showcased the Bearcats' speed as he returned the opening kickoff 71 yards for a score.

Since a 24-21 loss to Hilliard Davidson on Aug. 29, Brookhaven has won eight consecutive games. Kilbourne has won three consecutive after losing two of three games in the middle of the season to Upper Arlington (34-9 loss on Sept. 19) and Davidson (17-10 on Oct. 3). Last season, the Wolves were also 6-2 entering the final two weeks, but lost both games and missed the playoffs.

"We plateaued at the end of last season," Trombetti said. "This year we haven't done that and we continue to get better every week. Hopefully, we can ride that into the playoffs."

•The boys soccer team's hopes of becoming the first City League school to advance to a district final ended when it lost to Westerville Central 1-0 on Oct. 22 in a Division I district semifinal.

The Bearcats, who were shut out for the first time, finished 12-2-2 overall and 4-0-1 in the City League-North Division.

"At the beginning of the year, we set a lot of goals for ourselves," coach Paul Hackworth said. "We wanted to go undefeated at home, go undefeated in the City League, win the City and have an opportunity to play for the district championship. We didn't do all of those things, but I'm real happy with the way the season ended up. The night of the (Central) game, I wasn't real happy because I thought we let one get away from us."

Brookhaven, which beat Walnut Ridge 3-1 in the City championship game Oct. 9 in Crew Stadium and then downed Thomas Worthington 3-2 in the second round of the tournament Oct. 16, will lose three seniors in Ahmad Adam, Shafici Ali and Alieu Touray. Junior Jibril Jama, who had 14 goals and made first-team all-City along with Touray, is attempting to graduate early and also might not return.

Junior forward Osman Kamara, who made first-team all-league and second-team all-district after totaling 18 goals and 20 assists, will be the top returnee. Also eligible to be back are midfielders Rex Mensah (first-team all-City) and Ali Jamale (first-team all-City), defender Prince Gboya and sophomore goalkeeper Alex Garin (second-team all-City).

"We've got a solid corps coming back," Hackworth said. "I'm only losing a couple guys, so we'll set the same goals for next year."

•The girls volleyball team will lose three seniors in Tomiko Crumpton, Zanarie Fluellen and Kevona Patrick (second-team all-City) after going 3-11 overall and finishing sixth at 2-5 in the City-North behind champion Centennial (7-0).

Junior Jourdan Stanhope and sophomores Madison and Marah Morris are among those whom first-year coach Kim Turner will build around for next season.

•The boys and girls cross country teams had their seasons end in Division I district meets Oct. 18 at Watkins Memorial.

The boys had two competitors in the district 3 meet in senior Adul Sesay (43rd, 17 minutes, 45 seconds) and junior Karl Dallas (49th, 17:57). Senior Kofi Bugyei and sophomore Phuoc Nguyen are others who ran at times this season for Brookhaven, which finished fourth (114) in the eight-team City meet Oct. 7 at Whetstone behind champion Whetstone (18).

The girls team tied Whetstone for third (72) behind Centennial (20) and Northland (56) at the City meet.

Then in the district 2 meet, the Bearcats did not score as sophomore Marah Morris was 62nd (24:30.71), followed by sophomores Travecia Franklin (66th, 25:24.36) and Briana Holmes (72nd, 29:23) and senior Lorraine Levels (73rd, 29:24).

•The girls tennis team finished 3-4 overall and fourth at 3-3 in the City-North behind champion Whetstone (6-0).

Sophomore Theresa Chockbengboun, who played first singles, and junior Deserae Brooks, who played second singles, are the top players expected to return. Others who competed included Jasmine McCullough, Charletta Henley, Jasmine Jackson, Miguelina Perez and Jessica Small.