After setbacks, which HS football teams will bounce back?

One of the more interesting facets in high school football is observing how teenage players handle adversity.  Tomorrow night, there are numerous opportunities for teams to step up following huge disappointments last week.

Perhaps the most high-profile example of this will be Brophy Prep, a powerhouse in 5A-I football, attempting to come back following two straight losses.

The Phoenix Catholic school opened the season with two wins and appeared to be on their way to vie for yet another state title.  But a 13-16 loss to St. Mary’s HS in a heated rivalry game, set them back on their heels.  And last week’s non-region 30-7 loss to Centennial HS in Peoria makes it two in a row, the first time that has happened in quite a few years.

Centennial jumped on the Broncos right out of the gate, going 62 yards on the first possession and then going on to a 24-0 halftime lead.  The first half was Brophy’s undoing, as Centennial piled up 226 yards to 67 for the Broncos.

Any other night, the 221 passing yards put up by Brophy’s quarterback, Tyler Burggman, would be enough.  But not against Centennial, which is ranked No. 2 in 5A-II.   And not against Centennial’s QB, Justin Sanchez, who set the tone early with a 72-yard run in the second quarter.

And it doesn’t get any easier tonight.  They will have to suck it up big and get ready to take on No. 2 Chandler – at Chandler.

Another 5A team fell off the edge of the table last week, as 5A-II Ironwood Ridge HS in Tucson dropped a heartbreaker to Cienega HS.  The game, played on Cienega’s home turf in Vail, went down to the wire before Cienega pulled out the 31-28 win.

These are two of the top football teams in the southern part of the state, with powerful offenses, and both were running the table before they met in Week 4.  Ironwood Ridge had outscored its previous two opponents by a combined 84-32, while Cienega was averaging 43 points a game.

Ironwood Ridge entered last week’s game at No. 5 in the 5A-II power rankings, while Cienega went into it with a No. 6 power ranking in 4A-I.

Each had one loss, so this match-up was critical to being able to maintain a winning record.

But an interception in the end zone by Cienega’s Isaac Jones with 14 ticks left on the clock wrapped up a game that was close throughout.  Ironwood Ridge fell behind at 14-6 and then entered the half still behind, 24-21.  It was that close throughout.

Cienega got a strong offensive effort from quarterback Jordan Mills, who passed for 215 yards; senior Willie Willis who picked up another 122 yards on 14 carries; and receiver Javier Olono, who pitched in 117 yards in receptions.

Ironwood Ridge will try to right the ship tomorrow when it takes on undefeated Salpointe Catholic.

Moving down the ladder, we come to Fountain Hills HS in 3A.

The Falcons have been riding a huge high since the first game of the season, when they knocked off Wickenburg HS to break that team’s 43-game regular-season win streak.  Over the first three games, they had not been scored upon and ran up a 73-0 advantage over their opponents.

But Week 4 wasn’t so good to them.  Florence HS came from a 14-7 halftime deficit to go on to a 21-14 win that wasn’t decided until a Cody Williams interception of a Ranier Greenstreet pass as the final minute ticked away.

Florence quarterback, Jace Hulsey, tied the game at 14 on a one-yard dive into the end zone to cap the opening drive of the second half.  And then Cade Clemans gave the Gophers the 21-14 lead that would hold for the victory.

The football gods were kind to Fountain Hills, because next week they should be able to rebound when they take on Globe HS, which is 0-4 and coming off a 37-0 loss to Snowflake HS.

But the gods didn’t do Camp Verde HS any favors in the 2A division.

Camp Verde was hammered last week by Arizona Lutheran Academy to the tune of 64-21 to even their record to 2-2.

However, that’s not all they will have to overcome before their next game with Northwest Christian, which is the No. 1-ranked team in power points.

The Cowboys will have to face Northwest Christian without their head coach, Luke Steege.  He was ejected from the Arizona Lutheran blowout and will have to sit out the automatic one-game suspension mandated by the AIA.  Steege was tossed with eight minutes still to play in the half – and that was after his staff had already been hit with an unsportsmanlike flag earlier in the game.

So the Cowboys will have to buckle up and get ready to take on the No. 1 team, coming off a 43-point shellacking… without their head coach.  It can’t get much worse than that.

Well, actually, it can.  This will be Camp Verde’s homecoming game.