Ole Brook football provides place for hurricane evacuees

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

Football can be an anchor in the storm of life.

Brent Benvenutti, Tony Connetti, Randy Dixon and MatthewMosteiro have something in common. Besides being evacuees fromHurricane Katrina, they love playing football.

They’ve found a home in Brookhaven and a place on the Ole Brookfootball team. Since Aug. 29, when Katrina roared ashore along theGulf Coast, their lives have changed dramatically. One of the rocksthey cling to is football.

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Seeking refuge from the storm, the quartet wound up inBrookhaven. Most of them found safety in area shelters. Others havefamily living in Brookhaven.

Connetti (5-8, 157), a sophomore running back from Bay High inBay St. Louis, said his family’s brick home was hit by a 25-footstorm surge. “There’s a lot of water damage. The water picked it upand sat it back down.”

Against Clinton last Friday night, Connetti had the opportunityto see some action as a runner and blocker. Benvenutti was the longsnapper for extra points.

Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey said the new players areadjusting to their teammates. “I think they’ve adapted well. Theyare learning what to do. They had to get back in shape a littlebit. They had to learn the system.”

Connetti said he was enjoying Brookhaven High School and thefootball team. “I like it here. It’s a great football town.”

He said he appreciated the support of his new teammates.”They’re not worried about you taking their spot in the lineup.They encourage you.”

Dixon (6-1, 260, sr.) is an offensive lineman who arrived oncampus this week. His family lives on the West Bank of New Orleanswhere he was attending O. Perry Walker High School. Hisgrandparents, Eddie and Arterbelle Hilliard, reside inBrookhaven.

Dixon’s home suffered severe flood damage. “The ceiling in myroom caved in. The wind didn’t’ hurt us as much as the water.”

He has an uncle, Lionel Williams, who hasn’t been heard fromsince the storm hit New Orleans. Williams lived in the ninth wardwhich was inundated by flood waters when the levee systembroke.

“My uncle has a broken hip and he couldn’t walk,” said Dixon.”We haven’t heard from him.”

Dixon said he is enjoying the Ole Brook football team. “It’s alot different from my old school. There’s a lot of dedicationhere.”

Mosteiro (5-7, 205, fr.) is a quarterback from Chalmette, La.Like Dixon, he was concerned about Hurricane Rita, the latestthreat to New Orleans.

“If there’s any more flooding in New Orleans, it’s gone,” saidMosteiro. “We went down to see our house and it was still standingbut nothing much was left inside.

“The only door left was a closet door. The walls are down andthe carpet is all up.”

Mosteiro and his family are staying at the St. James M.B.shelter. He’s enjoying BHS.

“The school is totally different,” said Mosteiro. “We didn’thave five buildings at Chalmette; just one and the gymnasium. Itdoesn’t seem like a public school because you can get a lot of helpfrom teachers and the people.”

All three players said they were impressed with the Ole Brookfield house. “This is really nice,” said Dixon. “They have a greatplace for lifting weights.

“Coach Peavey is really dedicated,” Dixon added. “He knows a lotabout football.”

Peavey complimented the new arrivals on his team. “They have agood attitude. They’ve been through a lot, but they have handled itexceptionally well.”