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Opening night: Brophy begins journey down difficult road

Note: This article includes home games in the writer’s area of coverage, which is as follows: from Fountain Hills west through Scottsdale, all of Phoenix (except for Ahwatukee), the southwest, northwest and northern sections of the metro area. Other locales include northern, northeast and northwest Arizona.

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The 2013 football schedule for Phoenix Brophy Prep is beyond tough. The Broncos’ slate is about as difficult as you will find in any season.

It all starts on Friday night (Aug. 30) when Brophy plays its home opener at Phoenix College against Scottsdale Desert Mountain. Kickoff is at 7.

From there, Brophy goes through the gauntlet of defending Division I champion Chandler Hamilton, Division II runner-up Peoria Centennial, Mesa Red Mountain, Mesa Desert Ridge, Tempe Corona del Sol, D-I runner-up Phoenix Mountain Pointe, D-II powerhouse Scottsdale Chaparral, Mesa Dobson and 2011 D-I champ Phoenix Desert Vista.

A team can get discombobulated if it looks too far into the future, so Brophy coach Scooter Molander is trying to get his players focused on the immediate task at hand.

Molander is a follower of history and current events, and he likens his team’s schedule to a presidential election.

“If you look at the primary races and consider the entire schedule more than two years away, you would think that there’s no way that things can be done,’’ Molander said.

“But if you look at your schedule day-by-day, practice-by-practice, meeting-by-meeting, things can be done, maybe even more than you ever thought possible.’’

Many of Molander’s players from 2012, including quarterback Tyler Bruggman and receiver Devon Allen, have graduated.

Senior Brian Woodward was known as a top-notch safety until now, when he steps in to play quarterback.

Molander listed other players he expects to step it up . . .

After a year’s absence, senior Leonard Gutierrez moves in to play free safety.

“He is doing a great job,’’ Molander said.

Junior wideout Isaiah Oliver has promise. He has good bloodlines. His father, Muhammad, was a star defensive back at Phoenix North who went on to play at Oregon.

Senior wide receiver-running back Will Edwards will make his presence known. And 6-5, 310-pound senior A.T. Hall anchors the line.

The Broncos lost a key player about a week ago in their annual scrimmage. Jack Haddon, a junior free safety/outside linebacker/fullback suffered a knee injury, and it is not known if he will return.

“That’s a tough one to lose,’’ Molander said.

Desert Mountain coach Tony Tabor knows of Brophy’s difficulties, but he isn’t expecting the Broncos to just roll over.

“They have lost some guys,’’ Tabor said. “They say they are going to be OK, but I know that at Brophy, they don’t expect you to just be OK – they expect a winner.’’

Some of Brophy’s players live near Desert Mountain, and Tabor’s players have a big motivation – “We have never beaten Brophy,’’ he said.

The Wolves’ top players are quarterback Kyle Allen and receiver Mark Andrews, but they are more than just a two-player team.

There is defensive lineman Andy Mariani (6-5, 260), cornerback Gary McKay (5-10, 155), who transferred from Scottsdale Chaparral and who Tabor says is one of the fastest players he has coached, senior center Christian Boettcher (6-2, 300), and safety Dan Fedorka (5-9, 150).

Other top games

Scottsdale Saguaro at Scottsdale Chaparral The fur will fly in this neighborhood matchup. Saguaro is Division III, but won’t take a back seat to anyone. The Sabercats are led by Luke Rubenzer, a fine all-around quarterback.

Chaparral finished 8-4 in 2012 – a down year by Firebirds standards. Don’t expect a repeat. The team has reloaded with several key players. Senior tight end Trevor Wood is back after missing most of the season with an injured shoulder. Transfer Israel Simpson (Chandler Hamilton) is a good-looking receiver, transfer Elijah Castro (Peoria Sunrise Mountain) is a do-everything player, and junior Sean Paul Brophy is developing into a reliable quarterback.

Tempe Marcos de Niza at Phoenix Horizon – Marcos and its corps of versatile players will provide a big test for Kris Heavner in his debut as Horizon coach. Horizon is one of three Paradise Valley District schools to join Phoenix Paradise Valley with an artificial-turf surface. The others are Phoenix Pinnacle and Phoenix North Canyon.

Mesa Red Mountain at Phoenix Pinnacle – With new turf on which to run, Pinnacle senior back Josh Hoekstra will look to find holes in the Red Mountain defense.

Glendale Cactus at Phoenix Thunderbird – Queen Creek crashed the Division III party a year ago, and these two are eager to re-establish themselves as title contenders.

Scottsdale Prep vs. Glendale Joy Christian at Phoenix North Canyon – Both schools are moving to Division V 11-man ball after playing eight-man in Division VI. Joy won it all last season. Joy coach Brian Cole might have a few flashbacks, playing on the same field where he led North Canyon to the old Class 5A Division II crown in 2005.

Peoria Liberty at Goodyear Desert Edge – These are programs on the rise in Division III. Liberty had a tough go of it last week with a 42-40 loss on the road to defending Division II champ Tucson Ironwood Ridge. Desert Edge, the D-III runner-up, routed Phoenix South Mountain.

Early rivalry games – Surprise Willow Canyon at Surprise Valley Vista, Holbrook at Winslow.

Coaching carousel – Cornelius Bowick moved from Phoenix Maryvale to North Canyon and will play at Goodyear Millennium. Former Millennium coach George Martinez has moved over to fill Bowick’s old spot and leads Maryvale against host Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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