Trent Murphy called it an echo from years past, but whatever descriptions you like, this is one record spinning on repeat. Players have changed — some more than others — but the big boys are back on the big stage again.
Phoenix Brophy returned to the scene of its dramatic 5A-I state semifinal victory last year, and put an end to No. 1 seed Mesa Mountain View’s undefeated season in a hurry, with a flurry.
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Trailing at halftime and seemingly out of sorts offensively, the Broncos turned a bad exchange into 24 unanswered points and a 27-16 victory against the Toros on Friday night at Tempe McClintock High School.
Once again, it’s No. 5 Brophy (11-3) against No. 2 Chandler Hamilton for the state championship next Friday at University of Phoenix Stadium, where one of these two teams has won the title the past five years.
One way or another, we can make it a sixth, and a loss at Mountain View nine games ago — the last time Brophy was beaten — did the mental trick.
“This was just a way to get sweet revenge,” Brophy offensive lineman Hank Jenkins said after helping to pile-drive the Toros’ defense backward for most of the final two quarters.
Mountain View (12-1) was on its way to facing Hamilton in the title game for the second time in three years. The Toros smothered a muffed punt deep in Brophy territory that became an Alex Salas touchdown run, then got a 45-yard field goal from Matt Gulbrandsen as the first half expired to cap a 35-yard drive in the final minute and take a 10-3 lead going into the locker room.
The Broncos’ halftime talk was passionate following a half of poor execution, but Brophy threw an interception to end a nine-minute-plus drive opening the second half, and things looked grim.
On the next play, Toros center Jacob Westra (who played the final 45 minutes of the game with a concussion) and quarterback Blake Decker had a bad exchange on a snap, and the Broncos recovered.
“The defense came off with great energy and electricity,” Murphy said. “From that point on, we built off each other and couldn’t be stopped.”
Given a short field, Sam Quinif wedged a pass to Scott Robson to tie the score at 10-10, and the avalanche was on.
Then came the Broncos’ defense, a group savaged by injuries for the first two months of the season. They constantly sent Decker to the ground and shut down the Toros’ running game, which had been unstoppable all season.
“They never stopped hitting us,” Toros running back Jacom Brimhall said after being held to 53 yards. “From the start of the game, they were hitting us hard on both sides of the ball and I think it took its toll. We never were able to get anything going.”
Max Leonesio (26 carries, 123 yards) scored from 3 yards out to begin the fourth quarter, Nick Ayers drilled a 28-yard field goal and linebacker Adam Holzmeister followed with a 22-yard interception return for a score to make it 27-10 in the closing minutes.
Salas caught a touchdown pass from Decker in the final 90 seconds for Mountain View, but it only delayed the inevitable: A Brophy celebration on McClintock’s field.
The last time that happened, the Broncos were state champions a week later.
“When we do what we’re taught, we’re not bad,” Brophy coach Scooter Molander said. “It’s hard to win otherwise, but I’m so proud of them for staying the course and believing through really rough times.”