Santa Margarita vs. Brophy Prep
ESPN High School Football Kickoff preview
Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita, which is No. 2 in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings, opens the season Saturday (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET) on the road against Phoenix Brophy Prep in the ESPN High School Football Kickoff.
No. 2 SANTA MARGARITA EAGLES
Coach: Harry Welch Record: 0-0 Team overview: Santa Margarita won just six games combined in the two years before Harry Welch took over for the 2010 season. A 9-3 record his first season turned into a 13-2 mark -- complete with a state championship -- last year. The Eagles return plenty of talent this season and appear poised to make another run at a state title as the preseason No. 2 team in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings. Prospect history: The school opened in 1987, but it already boasts an impressive sampling of alumni. Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer, former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran, former UCLA offensive lineman Kris Farris and former Florida State quarterback Chris Rix are all former Eagles. This past recruiting class, ESPN 150 offensive tackle Max Tuerk signed with USC. Top prospect: Senior quarterback Johnny Stanton has been referred to as "Johnny Tebow" due to his toughness and physical gifts, but also partly due to the belief that he is a much better runner than passer. But at his core, the Nebraska commit and No. 234 prospect in the ESPN 300 is simply a fighter and a winner, and he'll do whatever it takes -- passing or throwing -- to come out ahead at the end of a game. New face: The offensive line needed to replace just one starter from last year's state title team, but the Eagles could be in good hands with sophomore Will Sorenson, who already checks in at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds. The offensive line was the driving force behind last year's success, so how Sorenson fits with the returning players will be important. Keep an eye on: Washington commitment Connor O'Brien does a bit of everything for the Eagles. He is a starting safety, but he's also capable of playing wide receiver. A physical force in the defensive backfield, O'Brien can make plays all over the field and is one of those players you can't help but notice over the course of a game. Other prospects: The Santa Margarita offensive line is stocked with talent. Center Dane Crane is headed to Washington, while guard Erik Bunte is committed to UCLA and tackle Riley Sorenson will have his pick of any number of Pac-12 programs. Wide receiver River Cracraft is a reception machine and will attend Washington State next season. Tailback Ryan Wolpin is a 1,000-yard rusher and received an offer from South Dakota State. Defensive end Nick Begg is committed to Arizona State. Bet you didn't know: With the CIF state title win last year, Harry Welch became the first coach in California to win three state championships with three different teams -- a feat he accomplished in just six years. In 2006, he led Canyon Country (Calif.) Canyon to the top spot, then took San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) St. Margaret's there in 2008.
Brophy Prep Broncos
Coach: Scooter Molander Record: 1-0 Team overview: Brophy Prep went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season last year, but fell in the playoff quarterfinals to Chandler (Ariz.) Basha. Last year's Brophy Prep team was very young and most of the starters return in 2012. The Broncos start the year with three games in 10 days. The team opened on Wednesday against Glendale (Ariz.) Mountain Ridge, earning a 37-14 victory. Prospect history: Brophy Prep produced three players who will start for Pac-12 programs this season. Ray Polk is a 2008 product who will line up at free safety for Colorado. Class of 2009 product Trent Murphy recorded 6.5 sacks as an outside linebacker at Stanford last season. Alex Garoutte graduated in 2010 and took over as the kicker for Arizona State last season. Three former Broncos have gone on to play in the NFL. Top prospect: Quarterback Tyler Bruggman is a three-year starter for the Broncos and is coming off a phenomenal junior season. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,497 yards and an astounding touchdown-to-interception ratio of 37-to-2. The Washington State commit will be the focal point for Brophy Prep. New face: With so many returning starters, new faces are somewhat difficult to come by for the Broncos, but junior safety Jordan Robinson fits the bill. Robinson started at Brophy Prep before transferring as a freshman and then coming back as a sophomore. He was forced to sit out last season, but as the newest varsity player in the program, appears ready to contribute in a big way. Keep an eye on: It will be difficult due to his tremendous sprinter's speed, but wide receiver Devon Allen is the player to watch for the Broncos. As a junior, Allen rushed 26 times last season for 228 yards, and caught 44 passes for 844 yards and 14 touchdowns. He added two touchdowns via punt and kickoff return. Other prospects: Brophy Prep returns four starters along the offensive line and guard Charles Renfree is one to watch. He holds offers from Idaho and South Dakota State. Defensively, the Broncos possess one of the strongest linebacker groups in the state, headlined by outside linebackers Robert Relf and Andrew Curtis. Relf holds offers from New Mexico State and North Dakota, while Curtis has been offered by Akron, Northern Illinois and South Dakota State. Bet you didn't know: While Brophy Prep's football team is capable of putting on a show, that's not the only entertainment at a Broncos home game. The student section -- known as the Red Army -- is one of the most passionate and outgoing in the country. Brophy Prep doesn't have a regular high school band, instead using a DJ on the field to play music and help pump up the crowd. Finally, like Wisconsin utilizes "Jump Around," Brophy Prep kicks off the start of every fourth quarter with a rousing rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."
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