During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation for next fall.
This week’s team: Brophy Prep (Phoenix)
2011 Season: 11-1, Division I state quarterfinalist, unranked in final POWERADE FAB 50.
Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 40. With a strong cast of returning players off a 2011 team that didn’t lose until the state playoffs, the Broncos could be the preseason team to beat in Arizona. Brophy, which fell to Basha (Chandler, Ariz.) 32-29 in the state quarterfinals, is set to play Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) in late August. Santa Margarita figures to start the season No. 2 in California and was projected to be a top-15 FAB 50 team earlier in our Offseason Primer.
Team Strengths: Coach Scooter Molander should have one of the nation’s top collections of skill players, similar to the group at Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) this fall that was led by quarterback Connor Brewer and receiver/defensive back/kick returner Davonte’ Neal.
Brophy junior quarterback Tyler Bruggman threw for 37 touchdowns with just two interceptions this past season and has offers from a multitude of colleges, including Arizona and Arizona State. Junior receiver Devon Allen had 44 receptions for 844 yards and scored 17 total touchdowns, including a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against North Canyon (Phoenix). He’s been offered by the likes of Michigan, Stanford and Washington. Also returning will be junior running back D’Amani Grayer, who ran for 939 yards and 10 scores. Junior Charlie Renfree leads the offensive line.
On defense, junior linebacker Andrew Curtis racked up 103 tackles in 2011, while junior Robert Relf is a solid contributor at safety.
Another Arizona team to watch: Defending Division I state champion Desert Vista (Phoenix) and perennial power Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) aren’t going to hand over state bragging rights to Brophy Prep quite so easily and should be solid once again.
One small school powerhouse with a national reputation for success that may have one of its best teams is Blue Ridge (Lakeside, Ariz.). Coach Paul Moro’s program is coming off a 14-0 Division IV state championship season and should feature one of Arizona’s top prospects, regardless of school size, in 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker Chans Cox. The Yellow Jackets, who have won two state titles in the last three years, also will return quarterback Skyler Hill, who threw for 267 yards in the state finals against Show Low (Ariz.).