Division I, Section III
Coach: Scooter Molander
Last year's record: 11-1 (lost to Basha in Division I quarterfinals)
Returning offensive starters: 7, including QB Tyler Bruggman, who recently committed to Washington State after a junior season in which he threw for 2,497 yards and 37 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
Returning defensive starters: 6, including LB Andrew Curtis who had 103 tackles as a first-team All-Section defender in the middle. He and fellow linebacker/safety Robert Relf lead a veteran, fast defense.
(all home games at Phoenix College)
Aug. 22 at Mountain Ridge; Aug. 25 vs. Santa Margarita (CA); Aug. 31 at Boulder Creek; Sept. 7 vs. Red Mountain; Sept. 14 at Sandra Day O’Connor; Sept. 21 vs. North Canyon; Sept. 28 vs. Mountain Pointe; Oct. 4 at Westview; Oct. 12 at St. Mary’s (at Phoenix College); Oct. 19 vs. Westwood; Oct. 26 vs. Pinnacle
Aug. 25 vs. Santa Margaita (Calif.): Big-time vs. big-time. Santa Margarita returns 15 starters (including a dual-threat at QB in Johnny Stanton) for the defending Division I state champions. Both Stanton and Bruggman are highly ranked nationally as prospects, but go beyond the QB position and there's talent to burn across both teams' boards.
Sept. 28 vs. Mountain Pointe: The Broncos shut down a one-dimensional Pride attack in last year's win, but Mountain Pointe's offense will be more balanced, and a higher scoring version of the 2011 playoff game that came down to a missed kick in the final seconds could resurrect itself.
Oct. 4 at Westview: Easily the most competitive game of the 2011 regular season for Brophy, which made a littany of mistakes but still eeked out a 24-21 win against the tough, disciplined Knights, as Fred Gammage (188 yards receiving, 3 TD) went nuts on Westview's secondary. This one could decide the Section III championship.
A trendy pick to reach championship caliber, Brophy cruised through the regular season thanks to a significantly weaker schedule than the old Fiesta Region (except Westview and Pinnacle).
Did that prove to be a downfall when Brophy met red-hot Basha in the quarterfinals and lost a shootout?
Tough to tell. But it's easy to tell the Broncos have championship sights again. Brophy returns 13 starters, and the addition of powerhouse Santa Margarita (Calif.) to the schedule will only help its caliber of play. Margarita is the defending Division I state champion in California and No. 4 in the nation according to MaxPreps.com because - similar to Brophy - returns lots of talent.
The Broncos offensive line (led by center Alex Rosner) and QB-WR connection will be a strength, as it should be with Devon Allen (844 receiving yards, 14 TD) the top target for Bruggman after spending winter and spring winning state and national awards for his sprinting and hurdling skills in track and field.
The defensive front seven will again be stout with linebackers Andrew Curtis and Robert Relf behind defensive tackle Dom Riccitelli. It's such a defensive lineman gluttony back in the mix, even two-time all-Section punter Matt Auran returned.
Despite all the typical caveats of staying healthy and realizing potential, Broncos coach Scooter Molander didn't exactly mince words about his team's future.
"A very talented group of young men who, if the want it, will have a wonderful opportunity to have a huge season," he said.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6576.