Chaparral is coming.
Tucson Salpointe Catholic might want to get its hands on Thursday night's game film of Chaparral's 44-10 win over Brophy. The Lancers are popular favorites in Division II as the regular season narrows and postseason banter begins in the next couple weeks, but company might be coming.
Playing without starting quarterback Sean Paul Brophy again (back injury), the Firebirds were on fire. They caught a couple big breaks in the beginning when Brophy's big plays were eventually fumbled, then Chaparral (7-1) piled up 305 yards rushing of its own and stuffed Brophy's offense the rest of the night.
The Broncos (2-6) sat at No. 17 in the Div. I power rankings entering the game, and now must beat Dobson and Desert Vista in the final two weeks to have any chance at postseason play, even though Chaparral's lofty ranking in Div. II (No. 3) won't likely "punish" the Broncos.
Elijah Castro was the catalyst. He ran for 119 yards and three touchdowns, was solid in special teams and picked up a few blitzing Broncos in run/pass blocking.
Seemingly everyone else helped. Backup QB Chandler Fox threw two touchdown passes (one to Tyler Whiley and the other to Izzy Simpson) and ran for 79 yards on a variety of sweeps and rollouts. Trevor Wood had seven receptions for 70 yards before ending his night early with an ankle (despite being on crutches Chaparral coach Dave Huffine said Wood would be fine).
The defense did the rest (and possibly the most). Led by Nauert and Hayden Pate the Firebirds spent most of the night in Brophy's backfield on blitzes and dominated the line of scrimmage.
The Broncos had a 77-yard pass from Brian Woodward to Will Edwards which ended up a fumble after Whiley chased down Edwards at the 1-yard line. It was the early-first-quarter beginning of the end for the Broncos as they fumbled again a few minutes later and Chaparral led 14-0 shortly thereafter.
Brophy had more turnovers (three) than first downs until the fourth quarter.
"Early turnovers and we didn't protect anybody," Brophy coach Scooter Molander said.
Even after a 25-minutes power outage to the stadium lights in the final 45 seconds and Brophy driving, the Firebirds ultimately won out. Joe Nauert - a former Brophy player - intercepted a Woodward pass and ran 90 yards in the other direction. Credit the Broncos with chasing him and down and tackling him at the 3-yard line. The Firebirds took a knee and Nauert got an earful from coaches and teammates for not reaching the end zone.
"We jumped on them early and the defense played really well," Huffine said. "We mixed and matched our coverage and pressured them, something we've been much better at the last few weeks. And we're going to get healthier."
It's been a struggle offensively all season for Brophy, but Woodward had a solid night defensively flying around from his safety position. Ryan Velez had a 77-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, scored the Broncos' lone touchdown from 21 yards out in the fourth quarter, and Isaiah Oliver blocked two kicks.
"We just need to keep getting better," Molander said. "Everyone needs to decide if they want to put in the time and effort to improve, to keep putting the team ahead of the individual."
Chaparral honored assistant coach Morgan Ruby with purple attire in its uniforms and "MR" on its socks. Ruby had surgery in his battle with cancer on Thursday morning.
Chaparral 44, Brophy 10
First downs: B 7, Chap 19
Rushing: B 25-107, Chap 54-305
Passing (Comp.-Att.-Yards-TD-INT): B 4/12/136/0/0, Chap 14/25/137/2/1
Fumbles-lost: B 4-3, Chap 0-0
Penalties: B 2-30, Chap 11-95
Brophy 0 0 10 0 -- 10
Chaparral 14 9 14 7 -- 44
Chap - Castro 2 run (kick blocked)
Chap - Castro 13 run (Castro run)
Chap - Whiley 10 pass from Fox (Packal kick)
Chap - Safety (Brophy QB tackled in end zone)
Chap - Castro 14 run (Packal kick)
BCP - Mourikes 26 FG
Chap - Simpson 23 pass from Fox (Packal kick)
BCP - Velez 21 run (Mourikes kick)
Chap - Thomas 14 run (Packal kick)
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.