Ok, let me clear the air and be the first to admit it, when Hamilton jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Brophy with 5:46 left in the 1st quarter I started thinking about where I would get a bite to eat after Hamilton completed its three peat. Scooter Molander and his Brophy Broncos had other plans as they fought their way to a 15 to 14 upset win and their first state title.
Brophy received the ball on the opening kick and a few plays into their first drive Sophomore QB Bryan Berens threw an interception right into the hands of Hamilton DB Clark Lamb. Lamb returned the ball thirty yards for the score. With the PAT Hamilton was quickly up 7-0. On the very next possession, Hamilton DT Alston Gaines stripped Brophy RB Rahnee Dennard of the ball. Courtney Stuart recovered and a few plays later Cody Engelbrecht ran it in for the score. PAT good 14-0 Hamilton. The second quarter saw both teams exchange offensive possessions and punts as the defenses dominated the quarter. Neither squad could get anything going against the tough D being played on the field. Late in the 2nd, after forcing Hamilton to punt from their endzone, Brophy was able to threaten and eventually hit a twenty-three yards fieldgoal. The big play of the short Brophy scoring drive came on 4th and 16 when Berens hit Matt Smith for the first of his many big catches of the night. The play went for twenty-four yards. Score at half Hamilton 14 Brophy 3.
Appropriate of the game the second half started with a big defensive play. Brophy safety Mike Callaghan intercepted a Colby Harris pass and returned it to the Hamilton fourteen. Four plays later RB Nick Natale scored from eleven yards out. The PAT was no good making the score 14-9 Hamilton. On the ensuing kickoff Hamilton fumbled and Brophy recovered deep in Hamilton territory. The Hamilton D held on a big series.
Early in the fourth, Hamilton and Brophy both attempted fake punts to try to get something going but both were to no avail. Later in the quarter, Hamilton is again forced to punt and punter Dominic Papa is on target pinning Brophy deep on their one yard line. With little time remaining in this hard fought defensive struggle, the idea of either team driving ninety-nine yards for the score seemed highly unlikely. The Brophy drive started slowly but gained steam when on 3rd and 6, Berens hit Matt Smith for twenty four yards. Two plays later Smith goes high across the middle, pays the price, taking a big hit which would have him helped off the field, but hangs on to the Berens pass for the twenty-two yard completion to put the ball on the twenty. As it had all night the Hamilton defense responds with back to back sacks from Gerald Munns and Dontay Moch bringing up 4th and 18. On the play for the game, Berens hits Mike Gianolla right at the first down marker for 1st and goal at the seven. Two plays later, with thirty-four seconds left in the game, on what may have been the gutsiest catch I have seen all year, a dazed Matt Smith slants into the endzone gets drilled hard but hangs on for the score. Brophy 15 Hamilton 14. The two point conversion was no good. Hamilton has one more shot but the chance for their third consecutive title is extinguished when DB Ray Polk intercepts a Colby Harris pass. Game and 5AI title to Brophy 15 to 14 in the big come from behind upset win.
Bottom Line: This is why we love high school football. Great hard hitting game between two very well coached teams that came down to the last play. Brophy easily could have called it quits after the first quarter but instead played tough defense keeping the game within striking distance for the offense.
Game Balls: Where to begin? The Brophy defense had numerous stars. Troy Taylor played great as he has all year. An undersized Brophy front caused fits for the big Hamilton offensive line. On offense Matt Smith made huge catches on the final drive. In so doing he took tremendous hits but held on to bring his team the win. Coach Molander has had a tough job all season in his first year. High expectations, replacing an All-State level QB at mid-season and coming back against the mighty Hamilton Huskies. Great Job! For Hamilton Gerald Munns played like a man possessed and cemented his spot in my mind as the top defensive player in the state and candidate for player of the year. Also a shout out to both crowds. They were great and both sides support of the Joe Jackson cause was humbling. This game has me already excited for next year!!