Desert Vista showed on its first drive of the game it was ready to do things a little differently.
The Thunder, needing a win to make the postseason, went for it on fourth down three times on their opening drive Friday against Brophy, but 2013 wasn’t like year’s past when it would have led to a score.
Instead there was a surefire touchdown pass dropped, the possession stalled after 8 minutes and 30 seconds and the Broncos started moving the ball instantly on gashing runs by Ryan Velez in a 34-7 Brophy win at Thunder Stadium.
“We missed some early opportunities and Brophy took advantage of it,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “It kind of snowballed from there.”
Coming in the prevailing thought was a win would definitely secure a spot in the 16-team Division I playoffs as the Broncos were No. 15 and Desert Vista (4-6) was at 17.
Brophy seemingly locked up a spot with an impressive win despite its 4-6 record based on strength of schedule.
“We thought we might have been No. 16 if we lost, but we are much happier in this position,” Brophy coach Scooter Molander said. “I have to give credit to the senior leadership because there were times they could have given in but they didn’t. We stayed the course and I think we are playing our best football of the season right now.”
The Broncos started the year 1-4 while dealing with injuries and youthful mistakes and played seven playoff teams overall.
It led to some uncharacteristic play by a very proud program, but it seems to have made Brophy better in the long run as the combo of Velez, who rushed for 129 yards on 25 carries, and senior quarterback Brian Woodward, who rushed for 55 yards, completed eight of 12 passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns, tormented the Thunder all game.
While the tandem but up the good numbers the offensive line played very good game and the defense held the Thunder to 56 total yards in the first half and 212 overall.
“We played all of those tough teams and got better because of it,” Woodward said. “We didn’t turn on each other and fought through it.”
Desert Vista, which has it first non-winning, non-playoff season since 2009, struggled throughout and when it did score – senior Richard Heywood hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Alex Farina – to close within 20-7 in the third quarter, Velez took the ensuing kickoff back about 85 yards and a personal foul on the Thunder gave the Broncos the ball on the 5-yard line before Velez scored to push the lead 27-7.
“We came out slow again,” senior Tomcat Reaves said. “We just couldn’t do anything and when we did we’d make a mistake right afterward. Brophy is a good team and we weren’t able to match them.”
Farina, who started the last four games, said the early mistakes set the tone.
“We had chances and missed them,” said Farina, who finished 13 of 32 for 163 yards and an interception. “I feel like we let the seniors down. Those are guys I look up to and we wanted to win it for them.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.