EJ Warner leads Brophy Prep through gauntlet of Arizona high school football powers

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).

BROPHY PREP TEAM PAGE | 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

HEAD COACH

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

2020 SCHEDULE (All games 7 p.m.)

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.

(Photo by Lisa Helt)

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.”

(Photo by Lisa Helt)

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.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO

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.

COACH SAID

“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

MORE: 2020 ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Thank you for joining the discussion on SBLive!

%d bloggers like this: