SBLive Arizona will preview every 6A football team in the state leading up to the 2020 high school football season. Here’s our look at the Brophy Prep Broncos of 6A Region 1 (Desert Valley).
Jason Jewell, second season (8-3)
2019 AT A GLANCE
Overall record: 8-3
Region record: 2-2, tied for second place
Playoffs: 6A, lost to Mountain View (Mesa) 35-19 in first round
ALL-REGION PLAYERS DEPARTED
DB/KR Emeka Ogbanna Jr., first team
OL Andrew Milek, first team
DL Thomas Digiovanni, second team
LB Jake Ruther, second team
LB Bryce Michael, second team
LB Michael Diaz, second team
LB Jack Taylor, second team
RB Andre Eden, second team
OL Owen Reinhart, second team
P Anthony Hidalgo, second team
QB Matthew Winter, honorable mention
WR Ryan Mehio, honorable mention
TE Kenny Roe, honorable mention
OL Maxwell Allen, honorable mention
C Campbell Helt, honorable mention
DB Anthony Gonzales, honorable mention
S Trevor Klein, honorable mention
Oct. 2, at Notre Dame Prep
Oct. 9, Saguaro
Oct. 16, Boulder Creek
Oct. 23, at Chaparral
Oct. 30, at Pinnacle
Nov. 6, at Centennial
Nov. 13, Liberty
Nov. 20, Williams Field
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB EJ Warner, 6-1, 182, Jr.
The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner was the primary backup to Matthew Winter last fall. He played in nine games, completing more than 75 percent of his passes (61 of 81) for 647 yards and five touchdowns, and should thrive in a full-time role this season.
RB Myles Newble, 5-10, 175, Sr.
An ankle injury cut short his junior season, but he added 15 pounds of muscle during summer workouts and figures to be the top option to replace Andre Eden’s production (819 yards, 6 TDs) out of the backfield. “He has put a lot of work in during the offseason,” Jewell said. “I’m expecting big things from him.”
WR/FS Taj Hughes, 5-8, 170, Jr.
Hughes was the team’s third-leading receiver last season, catching 32 passes for 465 yards and five touchdowns, and a second-team all-region punt returner, averaging more than 16 yards per return. “He’s possibly the most versatile player on the roster,” Jewell said.
WR/DB Andy Salome, 6-3, 190, Sr.
Salome caught 21 passes last year for 201 yards and two touchdowns. With the Broncos’ top two receivers having graduated, he’ll be counted upon to pick up some of the slack in the passing game. “I am expecting big things from him this year,” Jewell said.
DE Zac Swanson, 6-4, 230, Jr.
Swanson, the son of former NFL offensive tackle Pete Swanson, earned all-region honorable mention as a sophomore despite missing most of the season with a broken hand (15 tackles, three for loss, and six hurries in four games). He blew up on the recruiting trail over the summer — he’s No. 3 on 247Sports’ list of Arizona’s Class of 2022 recruits — and has offers from Florida State, Oregon State, Oklahoma, and Auburn.
LB/S Damarcus Ellis-Dennard, 6-0, 205, Sr.
An honorable mention all-region selection, Ellis-Dennard was all over the field last season, making 37 tackles (five for loss), four pass breakups, two interceptions and 1½ sacks. He holds offers from New Mexico State and Fresno State, among others. “He’s explosive, a real playmaker,” Jewell said.
CB Ben Morrison, 5-11, 155, Jr.
The second-team all-region pick and 247Sports’ No. 5 junior prospect is the son of former NFL defensive back Daryl Morrison. He led the team with seven pass breakups and intercepted two passes. He also ranked third on the team with 6½ tackles for loss among his 42 overall (32 solo) and holds offers from Colorado, Washington State, Arizona State and Iowa State. “He’s already approaching 20 D-I offers,” Jewell said. “Just a stud.”
P/K Marcus Lye, 6-1, 185, Jr.
A second-team all-region selection, Lye showed off his big leg last season, putting 27 of 44 kickoffs into the end zone and nailing a season-best 47-yard field goal. “Marcus has got a bazooka foot,” Jewell raved.
TE Tyler Powell, 6-7, 240, Jr.
Powell hasn’t showcased his talents much under Friday night lights, but Auburn and Iowa State already have made offers. “Tyler has grown into a man,” Jewell said.
DE/RB Will Bastman, 6-0, 195, Sr.
Bastman enters the season under the radar, having seen just spot duty as a junior (14 tackles in nine games), but Jewell thinks that will change quickly. “He has a tremendous motor,” the coach said.
In Arizona, having the last name Warner and playing quarterback means you could become something special. If EJ lives up to expectations with a bevy of receiving options at his disposal, the Broncos have a chance to advance to the Open Division playoffs.
“The most experience we return is at wide receiver,” Jewell said. “And EJ split time last year with a senior and did a nice job.”
The defense also is stacked, with Swanson an All-Arizona candidate and Morrison anchoring a secondary that remains stout despite losing two all-region players — Ogbonna Jr. (ALA Gilbert North) and Gonzales (Saguaro), both top 100 recruits — to coronavirus-related transfers.
“Our kids can grasp a lot of concepts quickly,” Jewell said. “Both sides of the ball, we ask them to do a lot of things.”
MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO
That ability to grasp concepts quickly will be put to the test right away. The Broncos will feature four new starters along a rebuilt offensive line in a Week 1 matchup with Notre Dame Prep — the first-ever Holy War clash between two of the state’s preeminent Catholic school programs.
Jewell, the offensive line coach at Glendale Community College before taking the Brophy head coaching job last year, knows the work it’ll take to develop a front five while playing a grueling schedule that features eight playoff teams from a year ago.
After the Notre Dame game, the Broncos get Open Division finalist Saguaro, and they finish the season with the reigning 6A (Liberty) and 5A (Williams Field) champions.
While making the Open Division playoffs remains a stretch goal, Brophy has the look of a top-half 6A playoff qualifier that could make noise in the postseason.
“Our schedule is brutally tough. Game 1 vs. Notre Dame is a big one for both of our programs, and our schedule doesn’t get easier from there. But we are up for the challenge.” — Jason Jewell
— René Ferrán