It’s 10 p.m. on Sunday and Scooter Molander is hunkered down in his office. Not even a private, affluent school like Phoenix Brophy operates at this hour on a weekend night, but in between teaching classes, staff and player meetings, breaking down film on Chandler Hamilton, practices, paperwork, a wife, three kids and a hundred other tasks that need his attention, Molander is prepping for the championship — and recruiting — game.
Now that college football teams have time, they’re requesting tapes, biographies, and Molander’s opinions on his guys as both players and people. He’s spent most of the wee hours of the past two weekends trying to accommodate.
A showdown with fellow dominator and future region foe Chandler Hamilton looms for the state championship. These two are the football heavyweights, and that’s not going to change — not as long as Hamilton coach Steve Belles and Molander, who once shared fields together in their East Valley playing days 25 years ago, are alive and coaching.
They’ve divvied up the last five state championships, and tonight will make it a sixth.
Hamilton, however, has dominated since the school’s birth.
Brophy hasn’t, but is now, and after four years under Molander, there won’t be many changes at the top.
Brophy has some built-in advantages. It’s a private Jesuit school, which means there are no geographical boundaries or restrictions on who can attend. It also gets ample money via donations, though athletic director John Chambers was quick to point out money allotted for students is strictly for academic scholarships and those with a proven need for financial aid.
Those who are admitted to the school tend to stay, and unless someone moves in from out of state, the Broncos seldom see kids transfer into the school.
What Brophy didn’t have, until 2003, was numbers.
When Jeff Kearin took over he stopped cutting players. All freshmen who want to play football, can. Numbers ballooned, and the Broncos now have two “freshman” teams plus a JV squad.
Kearin left the school after two successful seasons to coach at his alma mater in Southern California, and after a wide search, the school hired internally with Molander, Kearin’s top offensive assistant and a former high school, college and USFL quarterback who had worked his way up since 2001.
In turn, Molander surrounded himself with quality assistants in Bill Kalkman, Gary Galante, Bob Lambie, Robert Whitter and Jim Grindey. Some were head coaches at previous places who no longer wanted the pressure of being in charge; others never had interest in being a head coach.
The Broncos won their first state title in Molander’s debut season of 2005, 46 years after the AIA began sanctioning playoffs.
He also stayed with Kearin’s philosophy of allowing everyone a chance to play as freshmen, so nearly 90 players are in the program each fall, regardless of talent level.
Molander has had one hand’s worth of Division I-caliber players each of his four years, this time they’re almost exclusively on defense. There are a handful of 5A schools — and perhaps a couple in 4A — with more pure talent on the roster.
Count Hamilton among them.
Brophy hasn’t been the most skilled, but it’s 45-9 (.833) and has two championships in four years under Molander.