Catholic-school football powers try to recover from Wk 8


Last week the spotlight of high school football shone brightly on Notre Dame Prep, which went into its game with Horizon High School looking for its 33rd straight regular-season win, and Brophy Prep, which was undefeated and matching up with the No. 1 team in the Open Division rankings, Chandler High.

But the stage went unexpectedly dark for both, and tomorrow night the Catholic-school powers will look to get back on track in Week 9 of the prep season following a couple of surprise outcomes.

NDP hung on through two overtimes before succumbing to the Huskies, 35-34, on a thrilling fourth-down TD.  But then-No. 8 Brophy was never able to get that first point up on the scoreboard and suffered the humiliation of being routed, 49-0, in front of a home crowd.

It’s hard to imagine which loss hurt more – working through two overtimes only to lose a regular-season game for the first time in more than two years…or getting blown out in a game that should have been better contested.

It was also the first time a Notre Dame team has lost a game on Bemis Field, the new stadium built four years ago and named after the Saints’ former head coach who led the Scottsdale school to back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008 before dying from lung cancer in 2012.  That made this loss an especially bitter pill to swallow.

The Saints have relied on a strong run game to put together a 7-0 start, and against Horizon that strategy was still working as NDP amassed almost 400 total yards of offense, 260 of which was on the ground.

Horizon was able to hang with the Saints, going into the locker room down just a point at 7-6.  And the Huskies took over the lead on the first drive of the third quarter when Jake Martinelli hit Avery Lambert for a 27-yard reception that turned into a score.  Then Horizon turned a Saints’ fumbled kickoff into six more points on a Bryan Bogardus TD to stretch the lead to 21-7..

Notre Dame came back to tie the game at 21-21 and force overtime.  It was 28-28 after that overtime period, and Notre Dame scored first in the second OT, but missed the PAT.  Horizon answered with a score, Martinelli-to-Bogardus again, and the conversion of the point-after gave the Huskies the dramatic win.

The Saints dropped to No. 9 on the Open Division Top 10 rankings, but will still be expected to go deep in the playoffs.  If they do become one of the top eight teams that will be selected to play in this year’s new Open Division championship bracket, the Saints could come up against an old nemesis.  NDP is 33-2 under head coach George Prelock, with the two losses coming to the same team, Centennial High School, which is currently No. 5 in the Top 10.

Brophy’s loss wasn’t as ground-shaking as Notre Dame’s end of a 32-game win streak.  But the way Chandler, which has won three of the last four 6A state titles, dominated that game had to give the Broncos something to think about going forward.

Chandler’s defense was suffocating, sacking Brophy’s QBs six times (three sacks by junior defensive lineman Brandon Buckner) and recording three takeaways, two of which enabled the Wolves to put up two more scores.  They kept the Brophy offense so bottled up that the Broncos made it past midfield just once and never got as far as the red zone.  The Broncos managed just 84 total yards of offense.

And the Wolves were just as aggressive on offense as QB Mikey Keene passed for 252 yards and two touchdowns – both to junior wideout Jalen Richmond – while running back Daveon Hunter finished with 117 yards on 18 carries and put up three TDs.  The Wolves totaled 488 total yards of offense, almost perfectly balanced between the run game (236 yards) and passing (252), and collected seven touchdowns.

Brophy’s only consolation may be that Chandler fell short of its season average of 57 points a game.

Next up for both teams are a couple of 4-3 opponents, which may provide a little bit of a respite after last week’s turmoil.  The Broncos play Perry High School tomorrow night in their final home game, and Chandler takes on Basha High School in the sixth road game on its schedule.