Brophy at No. 2 Chandler
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Chandler High School (350 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler)
TV: Cox (ch. 7)
It wasn’t a warm-up per se — playing Peoria Centennial hasn’t been an appetizer to any Valley school the past five years — but last week was close to what’s coming this week for Brophy.
The rebuilding Broncos saw Centennial’s speed a little too up close and personal in a 30-7 loss last week. It was the second time in coach Scooter Molander’s five years that the Broncos lost consecutive games.
Potential loss No. 3 comes this week in the form of powerhouse Chandler, another team not lacking in the speed department. The Wolves lost to Centennial, 48-42, in Week 2 and still lament that game as one the Wolves should have won.
Is Chandler the East Valley version of Centennial?
“Absolutely,” Molander said. “They’re fast, physical, aggressive and can score on any play they call.”
Chandler (3-1) is thin at running back after the loss of Oshae Hatcher for the season, plus defensive line and secondary. The short week doesn’t help on that front, but the core of this Chandler team will be ready, starting with quarterback Brett Hundley and an offense that’s every bit as good or better than what Brophy saw vs. Centennial.
The Broncos (2-2) saw Hundley & Co. last season in one of the craziest finishes of the season — a 28-27 Brophy victory in overtime. But that was a completely different Brophy team.
The 2010 Broncos are young and inexperienced and enduring a rare period of growing pains during Molander’s six years at the school.
Despite the final score, the Broncos were happy with their defensive performance against Centennial, even though it was 17-0 by halftime. That hasn’t been the norm in awhile. Penalties and an inability to run the ball — two things the Broncos have excelled at in recent years — have been sore spots.
“We still haven’t found the rhythm on offense and have made too many mistakes to be consistent, but in time we’ll rectify that,” Molander said.
Falling behind prevented the Broncos from working on their running game, and Chandler is more than capable of doing what Centennial did. Maybe more.
Hundley’s passing and running abilities have improved since last year’s meeting when he threw for 149 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another 94 yards and two scores.
An interception and costly fumble late, however, opened the door for Brophy, but no such plays have happened yet this year.
“He’s as good a QB as you’ll see anywhere and anytime,” Molander said.
To prevent recurrences from becoming a trademark this season, the Broncos would like to maintain possessions — even if they don’t score points each time — to sustain drives, change field position and limit Chandler’s possessions.
Mesa wanted to do similar things to Chandler, but the Wolves responded last week with a smash-mouth running game in the second half, and the defensive line made the Jackrabbits miserable.
“It was great to see if we could do it, and not only do it, but successfully,” Chandler coach Jim Ewan said. “We have to line up and go at them. If we get the same kind of effort it’s going to be a big step in the right direction.”
The Broncos seek those same steps to move them in a similar direction, one involving a victory, because the schedule doesn’t relent for either team for a long time.
“They never anticipate being 2-2, which isn’t good for us,” Ewan said. “They’ll be more motivated for us because it’s a region game and they really need a win. Not that it needed a motivation with what’s been played out between us the past couple years, but we don’t need to give them more incentive to turn things around.”