Tony Tabor bent over, put his hands on his knees and stared at the ground for a few moments. He was physically and emotionally drained.
One could not fault the Scottsdale Desert Mountain football coach for that, especially after his team streaked to an early 28-0 lead, then couldn’t do much right the rest of the way as visiting Scottsdale Chaparral rallied for a 35-28 victory on Friday night (Sept. 20).
In the midst of it all, Desert Mountain lost three key players – wide receiver Mark Andrews (knee/quadriceps), center Christian Boettcher (knee) and defensive back Gary McKay (ankle).
The defense of Chaparral (3-1) came up big in the second half, allowing just 59 total yards.
The offense, meanwhile, racked up 289 total yards after intermission and finished with 491.
Junior quarterback Sean Paul Brophy completed 21 of 33 passes for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Senior running back Elijah Castro darted in and out of traffic for 115 yards and caught six first-half passes for 95 yards. Senior tight end Trevor Wood, a University of Arizona commit who missed most of 2012 with an injured shoulder, came alive with five catches for 107 yards and a TD.
Chaparral coach Dave Huffine understandably was pleased to see his team come out on top.
“We’ve been on the other side and it was good to be able to come back like this,’’ he said.
“We had a good momentum swing. We felt that if we could get a couple of things going our way, we would be OK.’’
McKay came out early in the game. Andrews, who scored the first touchdown for Desert Mountain (2-2) on a 71-yard pass from Kyle Allen on the team’s third play from scrimmage, came out in the second quarter after making a big play on defense – yes, defense. Lining up at right defensive end, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Oklahoma commit sacked Brophy at the Chaparral 8-yard line. That helped give Desert Mountain good field position after a bad Chaparral punt.
Andrews came out for the second half without his uniform on, in a T-shirt and shorts, limping slightly with his leg wrapped. Boettcher had to be helped from the field midway through the third quarter and gingerly moved around on crutches with an ice pack on his knee.
“It’s easy to say that injuries were a factor, but you still have to be able to overcome those,’’ Tabor said.
“It was like a boxing match. They took some shots from us, but stuck to their game plan. Give them credit.’’
Tabor said his players will be lined up for medical evaluations on Monday, if not before.
Chaparral trailed 28-14 at halftime. The Firebirds made it 28-21 on a 3-yard TD pass from Brophy to Izzy Simpson, tied it at 28 on a 1-yard dive by Devin Magana with 4:14 left in the third and got the deciding score on a 3-yard run by Magana with 8:53 left in the game.
Desert Mountain had Chaparral pinned deep in its own territory, just outside the end zone, in the final few minutes. But the Firebirds managed to run the clock out without having to give up a safety.
“Andrews is a great player and we had some issues with coverage (in general) in the first half. But our guys came back. They played with a lot of heart and a lot of passion,’’ Huffine said.
Andrews had just the one catch, and was missed as the team’s punter as Blake Hutchings took over. And linebacker Greg Frasco took over at center after Boettcher went out. Frasco had not snapped the ball in about two years, Tabor said.
Allen completed 17 of 28 passes for 258 yards, but only 9 of 16 for 50 yards in the second half.