Coach of prep power impressed w/ future Cougs

PHOENIX -- Santa Margarita head coach Harry Welch glimpsed the future of Washington State football on Saturday and concluded that "the Cougars are going to be very, very happy." His assessment came after a nationally televised game that pitted two WSU verbal commits -- quarterback Tyler Bruggman of Phoenix and receiver River Cracraft of Welch's Santa Margarita team -- against each other.

"In three or four years, people are going to be talking about both of them," Welch said.

While Bruggman had a modest night, completing just 11 of 30 passes for 160 yards, no TDs and one interception in his Brophy Prep team's 27-14 loss to the No. 1-ranked team in California and No. 2-ranked squad in the nation, Welch was impressed.

"There you've got a guy that's accurate, tough, coordinated, good vision, quick release, throws a beautiful ball," he said.

And Cracraft, who caught two balls for 31 yards on the night, is "a receiver that can move laterally so well, go up and catch the ball in a crowd," Welch added.

Cracraft scored a TD on one catch, and the other was a highlight-reel grab. With time winding down in the second quarter he caught a nifty fourth-down strike in traffic from Nebraska-bound senior quarterback Johnny Stanton.

Bruggman had an uncharacteristically inconsistent night, but five of his 11 completions covered more than 20 yards. And one gorgeous long throw was dropped in the fourth quarter.

"Overall, he played well as he normally does," Brophy coach Scooter Molander said. "We need to be multi-faceted and be to run the football effectively for the pass to go and we just couldn't do that tonight."

Bruggman and his go-to receiver, senior Devon Allen, were out of sync much of the night. Allen only had one catch in the first half.
"They did a good job covering him," Bruggman said. "They doubled him sometimes … I missed throws and I didn't get him the ball enough."

The game was tight, though, with Santa Margarita leading by a single score, 14-7, after three quarters.

They started the fourth quarter with a touchdown to go up 21-7, and then Brophy made it interesting when senior cornerback D'Amani Grayer blocked a punt and scored a defensive touchdown to bring the Broncos within one TD. Santa Margarita reponded with a clock-sapping drive that was capped with a short TD run by Stanton with 29 seconds left.

After the game Cracraft came over to the Brophy sideline to say hello to Bruggman. Cracraft said it was great to see his future teammate compete.

"It was awesome. He's a great quarterback," Cracraft said. "Watching him on film I was pretty nervous going into this game but I'm glad our defense did what they did."

Santa Margarita is now 1-0 and returns home to face Long Beach Jordan on Friday. Brophy, now 1-1, takes on Anthem Boulder Creek next.

Asked about his recruiting outlook after the game, Cracraft said he is concentrated on winning a state championship with Santa Margarita but that he is firm with Washington State and no other schools are talking to him. He said Mike Leach contacts him once a week and there is usually a letter waiting for him every day from the program.

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