Earlier this week, Red Mountain football coach Ron Wisniewski spent time downplaying Friday’s matchup with Brophy, the top-ranked team in the state and one of the favorites to win the Division I title.
This isn’t the Super Bowl, he said, and the Mountain Lions want to be playing their best football at the end of the year, not right now.
But Wisniewski can feel the buzz at school and knows, fair or not, how much this game will define the Mountain Lions early on. Red Mountain has been a perennial playoff team for the past several seasons, but one not among the elite in Division I.
“It is a measuring stick,” Wisniewski said. “People are going to look at it that way no matter what I say.”
Fifth-ranked Red Mountain has gotten off to an undefeated start behind a high-powered passing offense. Quarterback Mason Thorman (39-of-54 for 756 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT) leads the state in passing yards while Drake Pierre (12 catches, 361 yards, 4 TD) leads it in receiving yards. Add in the speedy Aeron Carr (13 catches, 231 yards, 2 TD), and the Brophy secondary will have a tough task.
However, the Broncos defense stood up very well against the star-studded Santa Margarita (Calif.) offense in a 27-14 loss two weeks ago. If it does allow points, the offense can match Red Mountain pass-for-pass.
Tyler Bruggman, a Washington State commitment, has struggled early on (42-of-87 passing for 676 yards 5 TD, 2 INT), but is one of the state’s best signal callers and Devon Allen (14 catches, 281 yards, 3 TD) may be the top wide receiver in Arizona.
Brophy is finally back to normal after playing three games in the span of 10 days to open the season, beating in-state opponents Mountain Ridge and Boulder Creek and losing to nationally-ranked Santa Margarita.
The Broncos struggled to put away Boulder Creek until the second half last week but has the talent on both sides of the ball to compete with anyone.
“To play three games in 10 days is an extreme challenge,” Brophy coach Scooter Molander said. “We’re a better team now than when we began. That’s what you want.”
Wisniewski is keeping an even keel about this whole thing, and he tries to relay that sense to his players to keep them grounded. However, it won’t change his expectations for Friday night.
“We’re not going there to play this game close,” Wisniewski said. “We’re going there to win.”