This story originally appeared in the Holiday issue of ESPNHS magazine’s Arizona edition.
The father of one of the players on the Brophy Prep soccer team carries a large wooden staff with him to each one of the team’s matches. THEMIS MOURIKES’ dad comes to every game with this ornamental staff, which is covered in cowbells, and he shakes it violently every time Brophy Prep scores.
The family is Greek, and Brophy soccer coach Marc Kelly says it’s “like Zeus’ devastating thunderbolt raining fire down on the tiny Greek city-states.” It’s so loud, Kelly says, that he almost dislikes scoring more than three goals a game.
But for this team, less than three goals is a rare occurance. Brophy Prep enters the season as the nation’s No. 2 team in the POWERADE FAB 50 Winter Rankings. The Broncos have one of the nation’s best players, the state’s best goaltender and a supporting cast that’s as good as you’ll find anywhere. And they’re the reigning 5A-I state champs after beating Hamilton last year, 1-0. The team is led by junior RIGGS LENNON, who’s rated the nation’s No. 10 player in the Class of 2013 by ESPNHS.
“He had moments where he literally ripped opponents apart on his own,” Kelly says. “At the same time, he’s raw. Should he continue to develop, there’s really nothing that can stop him from greatness.”
Brophy also boasts a stellar defensive unit that’s backstopped by senior NATE SUNDERMEIER, who had 17 shutouts last season.
“He had arguably the best year in Arizona high school soccer history,” Kelly says.
Seniors CHAD AHRENSDORF and TYLER McGEHEE anchor the defense, and junior DAVID LANE helps create opportunities up front for Lennon. The team will face a big test at an Orlando tournament in January against the top team in the country, Florida’s Montverde Academy.
No word yet on whether the fire-raining staff will make it through airport security.
Christopher Parish is an associate editor with ESPNHS magazine. You can reach him on Twitter @CParishESPNHS.