Sophomore quarterbacks aren’t supposed to do this.
At least not in the first game of the high school football season. With quarterback Chase Knox directing the offense, No. 3 Phoenix Brophy rolled to a 28-7 victory in its season opener Friday at Glendale Deer Valley.
Knox played the savvy veteran by leading the Broncos to two early-game touchdowns in the dominating victory. Not a bad debut.
“He did a lot of great things,” Broncos coach Scooter Molander said. “He made a couple of sophomore mistakes, but the only way he’s going to learn is to play in the games.”
It wasn’t until earlier this week that Knox knew he would be at the controls of the Brophy offense. But Knox said he prepared during the entire offseason and during the preseason as if he would be the starter. It definitely paid off.
Molander’s offense opened the season with an 11-play, 77-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from Knox to senior wide receiver Max Eller.
Brophy’s second possession ended when Knox found tight end A.J. Steimal in the corner of the end zone on a 1-yard scoring pass. It was a perfect start to the season for the Broncos.
Brophy led 21-0 at the half when senior running back Max Leonesio scored on a 2-yard run midway through the second quarter. Leonesio, one of the key returners for Brophy this season, did not play in the second half because of some minor injuries. He had 77 yards on 13 carries. Molander said if the game would have been closer, Leonesio would have still been in the game.
His backup, 5-foot-7 Peter Kelly, had 73 yards on the ground on just seven carries.
“He gets called a tough little kid enough,” Molander said. “He’s a tough young man.”
Knox, who finished the game 18-of-30 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns, led the Broncos to a touchdown in their first possession of the second half. It was Knox who scored on a 1-yard run.
The only downer for the young quarterback was two first-half interceptions, one of which came in the end zone.
“We had some opportunities to open up the game early, and we didn’t do that,” Molander said. “Interceptions in the red zone are a no no.”
Unlike Brophy, Deer Valley looked like it was playing its first game of the year. The Skyhawks often were their own worst enemy. Of course, Brophy’s aggressive defense played a big part in that. Deer Valley didn’t score until late in the fourth quarter.
LIVE IN-GAME UPDATES
The start of the game has been pushed back one hour, to 8 p.m., because of excessive heat.
Brophy scores on its opening possession, with Chase Knox throwing a 7-yard TD pass to Max Eller cap a 77-yard drive. 7-0 Broncs with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
Brophy has scored again on a 1-yard pass from Knox to tight end A.J. Steimel, giving the Broncs a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. Deer Valley has yet to make a first down.
Max Leonesio scores on a 2-yard run to give Brophy a 21-0 halftime lead.
Chase Knox, who has 157 yards passing, adds a 1-yard touchdown run to give Brophy a 28-0 lead with 8 minutes left in the third quarter.
Deer Valley gets a touchdown in the fourth quarter to get within 28-7, but Brophy holds on to open the season with a win. Final score: 28-7 Brophy.
Phoenix Brophy (0-0) at Deer Valley (0-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Address: 18424 N. 51st Ave., Glendale
Key matchup: Brophy’s passing game is in a bit of transition with new quarterbacks, but leading rusher Max Leonesio is back, and that’s exactly what Deer Valley is going to see.
Key stat: Leonesio’s 2,081 yards were the most by anyone in 5A-I or 5A-II last season.
The intrigue: Though it won’t be a platoon style this season, this should be a good game for Bronco QBs Garrett Wilson and Chase Knox to each get some game experience. The Broncos should win handily but remember that Deer Valley was a couple plays away from winning a huge comeback against Chandler Basha early last season.