It’s finally happened, and not in the way even their coach (a former quarterback) envisioned.
It’s taken most of the season to come to grips with, but one of the reasons defending 5A Division I champion Phoenix Brophy is hosting a second consecutive playoff game tonight is its passing game.
The defense was expected to be a strength with seven starters returning, and it has. But the graduation of almost the entire offense meant starting from scratch.
Sam Quinif and Beau Maggi went through a quarterback competition in August, then split starting duties early in the season.
Following a 22-17 loss to Mesa Mountain View, Broncos coach Scooter Molander switched QBs on nearly every play during the next week’s game against Mesa.
They haven’t lost since, and though defense and Max Leonesio (1,600 yards rushing, 19 touchdowns) have played a big part in the Broncos’ late-season success, a stingy Chandler Basha defense came after the Broncos’ quarterbacks in last week’s playoff opener.
The pair took hits, but Quinif and Maggi combined for 200 yards and two touchdowns through the air in a 17-7 victory, adding an element of balance that was missing — and sorely needed — for the first eight games.
“Basha came into the game saying we’re going to blitz the heck out of you, and it put the ball in our quarterbacks’ court, and they executed,” said Molander, a former quarterback. “I’m very proud of our receivers and QBs.”
CORONA DEL SOL
Tempe Corona del Sol hasn’t enjoyed much success against Mesa Mountain View over the years as evidenced by the Toros’ 13-1 record. Corona’s only win in the series came in 1989. None of the current Corona players were born yet. The Aztecs are 0-2 in postseason against Mountain View, but a breakthrough this evening would put Corona in the semifinals for the first time since 1991.
Chandler is in marginally better shape this week physically with running backs Taylor Walstad and Jamil Hines ready to resume action against Chandler Hamilton after missing last week vs. Gilbert. Receiver-defensive back Markus Wheaton (ankle) will be a game-time decision as will defensive lineman Sam Wences, the Wolves’ sack leader.
Efficiency is desired from quarterback play, and that’s a big reason why Hamilton and Mountain View are where they are entering tonight’s quarterfinals. Starters and backups alike.
Mountain View quarterback Blake Decker and Hamilton’s Zak Hambsch are long on completion percentage and touchdown passes and short on interceptions. Decker has completed 67 percent of his passes for 1,339 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. Hambsch has hit on 65 percent of his throws for 1,742 yards, 16 TDs and three interceptions.
Decker missed three games and was relieved in those by Brad Heap. Hambsch often shared time with junior Travis Dean. Heap has completed 61 percent of his attempts for 388 yards, 6 touchdowns and no interceptions. Dean connected on 65 percent for 430 yards, 5 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Kicker Ben Damari (strained hip flexor) will return to do kickoffs and long field goals for Scottsdale Chaparral after missing two games. Freshman Xavier Crawley will continue kicking extra points and short field goals.
Phoenix Desert Vista lineman Devon Kennard has been chosen to participate in the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 in San Antonio, Texas. Kennard missed eight of the Thunder’s 11 games this season with a knee injury but remains one of the nation’s most-coveted prep defensive recruits.
Staff writers Les Willsey and Kyle Odegard contributed to this report
All games 7 p.m. unless noted
Corona del Sol (9-2) at Mountain View (11-0)
Highland (7-4) at Brophy (9-3)
Red Mountain (6-5) at Salpointe (10-1)
Chandler (8-3) at Hamilton (10-1)
Desert Ridge (8-3) at Centennial (11-0)
Sunnyside (9-2) at Ironwood Ridge (9-2)
Skyline (8-3) at Marcos de Niza (10-1)
Boulder Creek (9-2) at Westview (10-1)
Cienega (9-2) at Chaparral (10-1)
Canyon del Oro (10-1) at Paradise Valley (9-2)
Millennium (9-2) at Peoria (10-1)
Cactus (8-3) at Saguaro (11-0)
Arcadia (7-4) at Coronado (10-1)
Mingus (9-2) at Notre Dame (11-0)
Santa Rita (10-1) at Palo Verde (10-1)
Greenway (9-2) at Queen Creek (8-3)
3A semifinals at Paradise Valley HS
4 p.m. - Fountain Hills (11-1) vs. Blue Ridge (11-1)
Wickenburg (12-0) vs. Payson (12-0)
2A semifinals at North Canyon HS
2 p.m. - Benson (11-1) vs. Phoenix Christian (12-0)
5 p.m. - Valley Christian (9-2) vs. St. Johns (12-0)