Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

Relieved Brophy FB team sets sights on Sollenberger Classic

July 3, 2014 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

Two blocks. That’s all.

That’s all that separated Phoenix Brophy Prep and disaster earlier this summer.

The now-infamous Slide Fire weaved its way up Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona and stopped two blocks from the camp named Manresa, used by the school for spiritual, academic and staff retreats.

It also is where the school’s football team holds its preseason camp.

Had the fire continued, “It would have been bad for a lot of reasons,’’ said a thankful and relieved Brophy football coach Scooter Molander.

After a busy June in which the Broncos competed in several seven-on-seven passing competitions, including one against varied opponents on Tuesday nights at the artificial-turf soccer field on the Brophy Sports Campus, the team will have most of July off.

Then it will report to Manresa on July 26 and have two days of preparations as it makes its way toward Aug. 22, when it opens its 2014 season. Brophy will play in the annual Sollenberger Classic, a tribute to late Arizona Interscholastic Association historian Barry Sollenbeger.

Brophy will face 2013 Nevada big-school champion Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas on Gorman’s home field. The next night, on Aug. 23, Arizona’s Division I defending champion, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, will meet Nevada state runner-up Reed High.

Of his team’s play in the summer, Molander said, “We improved a lot, and came out of it fairly healthy.’’

Perhaps the most notable health news involves senior-to-be Jack Haddon, a hard-hitting defensive back and running back. Haddon missed virtually all of last season with a knee injury.

Other key returnees are senior defensive back Isaiah Oliver, junior defensive end Connor Murphy and junior all-purpose player Ryan Velez.

Molander said the Broncos looked good in spring ball. The summer began in somewhat shaky fashion, but they kept improving.

“We were able to put in some of our offensive schemes, and our defense made progress,’’ Molander said. Linemen do not participate in the passing drills, but have their own strength and conditioning program.

The summer also offers a chance “to adapt and adjust’’ to what opponents do, Molander said.

“When you get down, how do you respond?’’ he said. “Also, why did we do certain things we were supposed to, and why didn’t we?’’

In recent years, Brophy has had one of the toughest schedules in the state, and this fall will offer more of the same. In addition to Bishop Gorman, the Broncos will be tested by Mountain Pointe, perennial power Chandler Hamilton, Peoria Centennial, Scottsdale Chaparral, Phoenix Desert Vista, Mesa Desert Ridge, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, Mesa Red Mountain, Tempe Corona del Sol and Mesa Dobson.