Not much was expected of Brandon Krcilek this season.
The Hamilton junior wide receiver was buried behind Izzy Simpson and Elijah Williams on the depth chart over the summer, and even leading up to Friday’s game against Brophy, hadn’t done all that much to impress coach Steve Belles in practice.
Simpson, though, transferred to Chaparral before the year began and Williams suffered a concussion against the Broncos, which gave Krcilek his chance.
He didn’t let it go to waste.
Krcilek caught four passes for 110 yards -- including a crucial 75-yarder in the third quarter -- as the top-ranked Huskies dispatched the No. 8 Broncos, 24-9, at Hamilton.
Brophy had pulled to within 14-9 on a touchdown pass from Brian Woodward to Streator Bates with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter, but Hamilton answered quickly when Krcilek caught a quick slant from quarterback Sammy Sasso, bounced off two tacklers and raced 75 yards to the 1. Tyrell Smith would punch it in for a 20-9 lead, and Brophy could not recover.
"The pass was tipped at the line, and the ball was sent perfectly where I got hit by both guys at the same time," Krcilek said. "I bounced off them and went. You take what you can get, right?"
Brophy drove into Hamilton territory facing the 11-point deficit, but running back Will Edwards fumbled after an awkward exchange with Woodward and Qualen Cunningham recovered. The Huskies would clinch the win by putting together their most dominant drive of the game, punctuated with a 14-yard touchdown catch by Kyeler Burke.
The passing game was productive for the Huskies, as Sasso finished 11-of-18 for 225 yards and a touchdown. Smith had 16 carries for 89 yards and a two touchdowns and the defense did the rest.
Caleb Peart and Garrett Rand led a dominant defensive line with two sacks apiece and Cunningham had two fumble recoveries. Woodward played very well and helped keep multiple drives alive with his arms and legs, but the Broncos could never spring big plays, which hurt their chances.
“You’ve got to go 80 (yards), and that’s tough against our defense,” Belles said.
Brophy hung in, though, as the deficit was only five points late in the third quarter. The Broncos lost almost everyone of significance from last year’s semifinal team, but after a win over Desert Mountain in the opener and a solid performance against Hamilton, coach Scooter Molander is feeling encouraged.
“Obviously we won’t be bigger than anybody we play this year, and yet, I love our team,” he said.
Belles has similar feelings about the Hamilton offense. The Huskies are so good defensively that they don’t need to light up the scoreboard every week, but there were promising developments offensively, especially in the final three quarters after a slow start.
“I’m happy where we are offensively,” Belles said. “It’s a marathon. We need just to build on it.”
Hamilton 26, Brophy 9
First Downs: Brophy 10, Ham 13
Rushing: Brophy 28-60, Ham 33-154
Passing (comp.-att.-yards-TD-INT): Brophy 15-24-174-1-0; Ham 11-20-225-1-1
Fumbles-lost: Brophy 3-2; Ham 2-0
Penalties-yards: Brophy 9-70, Ham 14-95
Brophy 0 3 6 0 -- 9
Hamilton 0 14 0 6 6 -- 26
Ham: Sasso 2 run, Krcilek kick
Bro: Mourikes 31 FG
Ham: Smith 4 run, Krcilek kick
Bro: Streater 16 pass from Woodward, pass failed
Ham: Smith 1 run, kick failed
Ham : Burke 14 pass from Sasso, kick failed