When Brophy College Preparatory’s football team takes the field this Friday, it will be faced with a challenge it has not faced this season: playing after a loss.
The Broncos (4-1) suffered their first loss of the season on Friday, Sept. 18 against Pinnacle High School (3-1) by a score of 32-31.
With their hopes of an undefeated season gone, the Broncos will turn to a top-ranked team in Desert Ridge High School (3-1) for their next game.
Brophy head coach Scooter Molander says the Broncos are moving on after the loss and being detail-oriented during practice.
“We certainly had our opportunities last week, we just didn’t close when we needed to,” Coach Molander said in a Sept. 20 phone interview. “So, you go back and you really get back to the details. Everybody is really coaching the details and making sure that we’re sharp in practice and that we have a purpose in what we’re doing. That’s how you get back on track.”
According to MaxPreps.com, as of Sept. 23, Desert Ridge will enter Friday’s matchup as the No. 7 team in Arizona Division I football, while the Broncos enter the game at No. 9.
Brophy senior quarterback Cade Knox says the Broncos will come out focused and poised to play on Friday after last week’s loss.
“We take every opponent seriously,” Knox said in a Sept. 22 phone interview. “I think that’s something we didn’t really do a great job of last week. We didn’t really take Pinnacle for the team that they were. I guarantee that loss has taught us more than any win will ever teach us…We’re taking every opponent just like it’s the state championship game.”
One of the toughest tasks for the Broncos on Friday will be to slow the Jaguars’ rushing attack, which averages 288.8 yards per game, according to MaxPreps.com.
The leading rusher for the Jaguars is junior running back Jathan Tenorio, who has rushed for 596 yards and four touchdowns this season. Tenorio has rushed for 100 or more yards in each of Desert Ridge’s first four games, according to MaxPreps.com.
Brophy senior inside linebacker Walker Adams says focusing on the basics will lead the defense to success.
“For us, it’s going to be about being disciplined,” Adams said in a Sept. 23 phone interview. “For me and my buddy on the inside, it’s going to be a lot of eye discipline. You know, doing the fundamentals. Read the guards, don’t over-pursue and it’s all sorts of things like that, that we’ve drilled hard the first couple days (of practice) and we’re going to keep drilling hard the rest of the week.”
Coach Molander says the Broncos will need to get the Jaguars to third down passing situations in order to slow the rush.
“They’ve always been a very fine rushing team, they hang their hat on that,” Coach Molander said. “If you can slow them down on first and second down, and that’s really the key, to more passing-type situations. Understanding how you fit on defense, in other words, making sure that you’re doing your job and you’re responsible for your gap and playing physical. Those are ways in which you get your best opportunity to play well.”
Over the past few seasons, the Desert Ridge/Brophy match-up has been very much a back-and-forth one.
In 2013, the Broncos fell to the Jaguars twice, once in the regular season and again in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
In 2014, the match-up belonged to the Broncos, as they defeated the Jaguars in the regular season and in the quarterfinals.
In 2015, Brophy is ready for a revenge-seeking team in Desert Ridge.
“It’s definitely a huge, huge game for them,” Knox said. “We were in their shoes last year. My sophomore year, we lost to them twice…Being able to beat them twice last year, I know exactly the spot they’re in, how they feel. So, it’s a huge game and we really can’t let it down any second because they’ll be trying to get on us every play. We’re going to have to respond out there and just feed off of their energy and give ourselves our own energy.”