One of the most interesting and fun things about high school sports is the unpredictability. Last week at this time, we were wondering what it would take to shake No. 1 Mountain Pointe High School and No. 2 Brophy Prep from the top of the 6A conference standings.
Two days later, we found out.
Brophy, undefeated through its first seven games, was ambushed by an unranked team that had won just two games this season. Basha High pulled out the 27-24 upset in the final minute of the game.
Mountain Pointe won its game against Highland High last week, but lost its starting quarterback for the season, which puts its ability to continue its reign in doubt.
All of a sudden, the big-school football landscape is beginning to shift.
After the 48-0 blowout of Highland, the Pride (7-0) is still at the top of the 6A conference and ranked No. 11 nationally by USA Today. But they will have to find a way Friday to deal with Desert Edge High School (6-1), which moved up in the rankings to take over the No. 2 spot vacated by Brophy, without their two biggest weapons.
The Pride lost their star running back Gary Bragg two weeks ago after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a game against Pinnacle High School. For the five games he played, he averaged nine yards a carry and was almost certain to reach the 1,000-yard mark rushing.
And now they will be without starting QB Noah Grover the rest of the way. Grover was averaging 176 yards passing per game and 13 touchdowns – and had already accumulated 1,058 yards. A broken leg suffered in the first half of the game against Highland likely means an end to the senior’s season, and his prep career.
Sophomore Nick Wallerstedt, who transferred in from Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School and was ineligible for the first half of the season to satisfy AIA transfer rules, finished the last game and is expected to start against Desert Edge. That was the official start of his varsity career, but he performed well against Highland, protecting his team’s 21-0 halftime advantage and directing the offense to four more touchdowns.
Mountain Pointe has been averaging 431.8 yards of total offense. It will be interesting to see if that continues. A lot will depend on a trio of seniors who have tried to pick up the baton from Bragg, who was averaging 178 yards a game rushing. Anthony Stephens, Rashie Hodge Jr., and Antwaun Woodberry are combining for 150 yards per game, led by Stephens’ 79-yard average.
Brophy’s problems are far less severe, mostly of the psychological kind that comes with losing a game on a missed field goal as time expires. The 33-yard attempt would have taken the game into overtime to give the Broncos a chance to keep their perfect record intact.
This was an evenly-contested game, with the lead changing hands throughout. Brophy’s defense was up to the task, as it has been all season long, but allowed enough big-yardage plays to spell the difference.
Basha’s first score of the night came on its opening drive when quarterback Ryan Kelley connected with wide receiver Connor Collins for a 58-yard score. A little later in the first quarter, Kelley romped for a 60-yard run to set up the second TD that running back Kyle Turas capped with a one-yard plunge.
A 45-yard completion to Jaylyn Goodman added another TD and, with less than a minute left in the game, Kelley found Terrell Brown in the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown that proved to be the winning score. Brown, a senior wide receiver, used his 6’4″ height to pull down 10 receptions for 134 yards.