Brophy downs Pinnacle, eyes Mountain Pointe

Brophy defeated Pinnacle 38-37 in double overtime in the first round of the 2015 Division 1 state playoffs. (photo by Michael Placenti)

Brophy defeated Pinnacle 38-37 in double overtime in the first round of the 2015 Division 1 state playoffs. (photo by Michael Placenti)

After a double-overtime victory in the first round of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division I Football State Championships over Pinnacle High School, the Brophy College Preparatory football team has another challenge in front of it as it prepares to take on an undefeated Mountain Pointe High School.

The Broncos (7-4) emerged victorious on Nov. 6 in a thrilling 38-37 game against Pinnacle (5-6), a team that defeated Brophy 32-31 in the regular season.

Brophy senior linebacker Walker Adams says the win was encouraging for the Broncos as they move forward in the playoffs.

“For me, it was really rewarding to know now we are playing our best football, because obviously at that point in the season we really weren’t playing up to the level that anyone expected from us as a team,” Adams said in a Nov. 10 phone interview. “It was really satisfying across the board for everyone.”

The Broncos’ head coach, Scooter Molander, says his team is learning how to play a full game, even when things are not always going their way.

“I think the biggest thing is you just keep moving forward in the ball game,” he said in a Nov. 8 phone interview. “It’s 48 minutes—and we played more than 48 minutes the other night— mistakes are going to happen, you don’t dwell on them and allow them to turn into other mistakes. I think our guys have really become mentally tough and we played well.”

(photo by Michael Placenti)

(photo by Michael Placenti)

The Broncos were able to pull off the win against a talented Pinnacle team led by a freshman quarterback, Spencer Rattler, who recently announced on Twitter that he received his first collegiate offer from Arizona State University, which was followed by a second offer from UCLA.

Coach Molander had high praise for the Pioneers’ quarterback, who threw for five touchdowns and 420 yards in the loss.

“Pinnacle has a tremendous young quarterback,” he said. “He’s very poised, throws a great ball and we were able to get to him and put some pressure on him and that helps…It was a great game and they have a great program.”

Rattler was not the game’s only star, however, as Brophy’s senior running back Ryan Velez rushed for 170 yards and three touchdowns and added a 97-yard touchdown pass on a trick play. In Brophy’s past two games, Velez has nine touchdowns (eight rushing, one passing), according to MaxPreps.com.

“He’s amazing,” Coach Molander said of Velez. “He is one of the greatest players I’ve ever coached and when we needed plays to be made, he stepped up. Even when it wasn’t obvious he was making plays, he did…He’s got offers from the Ivy League schools. D-I schools need to take a serious second look at this kid.”

Molander used one specific play to demonstrate Velez’s impact. The Broncos faced a fourth-and-four situation late in the fourth quarter and they needed the first down in order to get into field-goal range and tie the game. As a blitzing linebacker shot the gap, Velez was there to stop him and allowed senior quarterback Cade Knox to throw for the first down.

Velez credits his team for his recent explosive performances.

“It’s just the belief that the team has in me and in each other,” he said in a Nov. 10 phone interview. “We know what we can do individually and if we can each do our jobs individually it kind of just brings the whole team together and we know we can accomplish greater things.”

Up next for the Broncos: Mountain Pointe

The Broncos have an opportunity to reach greater heights at 7 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 13, as they make their way to Mountain Pointe High School to take on the Pride (11-0), who won their first-round game 56-0 over Mountain View High School.

“They are certainly fast, talented and they have a very good program over there,” Coach Molander said. “We intend to come and play hard. We’re going to play smart football, take care of the ball and play good defense. It’ll be a great ball game. We’ve had some good battles with them in the past and we need to continue to watch film and do what we can do.”

Mountain Pointe comes into the game with a dual-threat quarterback in senior Jack Smith and a consistent running back in senior Macarius Blount. According to MaxPreps.com, the two have combined for 2,333 yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground this season.

Coach Molander says slowing the Wing-T rushing attack that Mountain Pointe has traditionally used is going to be the key for the Broncos.

“To beat anybody you have to stop the run,” he said. “We need to make sure that we take care of our business and put them in situations they’re not used to being in…We need to mix up our looks and take care of our opportunities when they come.”

Velez, who leads the Broncos with 1,476 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, says the Broncos are ready for to face another tough opponent.

“We need an extreme amount of focus and a lot of belief,” he said. “We know we can compete with these teams, we know we can beat these teams. We’ve put up solid points on teams like Hamilton, we even beat Basha. Even the teams we lost to were really close. If we do individual things properly and correctly then work as unit, we should be alright.”

Adams says the Broncos will be ready for Mountain Pointe because they played in a similar game when he was a sophomore. The Broncos defeated an undefeated Westview High School in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.

“When we came into that (Westview) game, we knew that if we could get out in front and hit ‘em in the mouth, they’d be a little shell shocked,” Adams said. “That’ll be our attitude coming into this game.”

Scottsdale Independent Sports Correspondent Justin Maskulinski can be contacted at jmaskulinski@newszap.com. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/Maskulinski.

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